Hypertension is commonly classified into two major categories- primary or essential hypertension and secondary hypertension. While the causes of the latter are well known, there are no known causes of the former.
On the basis of the severity of the disease and its possible consequences on the other parts of the body, hypertension may be classified as either malignant or benign.
Malignant hypertension is marked by quickly rising blood pressure, often accompanied with associated conditions such as renal or heart failure. Malignant hypertension is characterized by uncontrolled and serious high blood pressure. Benign hypertension is used to describe a condition of mild to moderate high blood pressure.
Thus, benign essential hypertension may be defined, as a high blood pressure condition of mild to moderate hypertension, for which there is no discernible cause. It represents a state of consistent yet controlled high blood pressure, without any associated risks of renal or heart failure or organ damage. As this condition is not malevolent in terms of its consequences, it is often described as benign.
Looking back on the history of hypertension, it may be observed that for several years, doctors were not even sure whether to label this condition as a disease or not. The term benign essential hypertension reflects the previously held belief that high blood pressure was risk-free and possibly even necessary for sufficient tissue perfusion. At this time, high blood pressure was not recognized as a threat to health and life by the medical fraternity.
Over the years, as more research was done on the subject, it was observed that not all forms of high blood pressure are benign. The medical profession came to realize that this condition could also be dangerous. It was at this time, that a distinction came to be developed between benign essential hypertension and high, uncontrolled hypertension.
These days, doctors do not label benign essential hypertension as a dangerous and risky condition. It is however clear that uncontrolled and ignored benign hypertension can often deteriorate into a malignant and dangerous condition. Thus, considering the possible threats that may be associated with malignant hypertension it becomes important that benign essential hypertension be diagnosed early and treated immediately.