Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

A search for symptoms of high blood pressure produces few results. Could it be that you can’t write much about what doesn’t exist? But symptoms do exist and what you don’t know can hurt you.

We all know that high blood pressure is known as the “silent killer” which means that it has no symptoms. So when do symptoms of high blood pressure occur?

Let’s identify three phases of high blood pressure:

Commonly encountered high blood pressure levels, short term:

No symptoms here. People actually seem unable to believe they have high blood pressure when it is found. I used to put the stethoscope in patient’s ears and give them a mini-crash course in blood pressure taking so they could see for themselves.

The following are symptoms that are widely attributed to high blood pressure:

  • Headache
  • Nosebleeds
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Red face
  • Anger
  • Fatigue
  • Stress
  • Feeling an inner pressure

These occur just as often in the general population therefore are not symptoms of high blood pressure.

Commonly encountered high blood pressure levels, long term:

This is where symptoms do occur and are attributable to the organs that have been damaged. Thus these symptoms are not directly attributed to the blood pressure.

  • Heart as congestive heart failure: Fatigue, shortness of breath, decreased stamina.
  • Heart as coronary artery hardening: Chest pain with exertion (angina).
  • Eyes: Visual disturbance.
  • Brain: Usually the wide variety of symptoms of stroke. Symptoms of the area of the brain affected.
  • Kidneys: Edema (swelling of lower body parts), proteinuria. Other non-specific symptoms such as malaise, loss of stamina. There are few if any symptoms specific to the kidney damage due to hypertension.

Uncommonly encountered high blood pressure levels, really high:

When the blood pressure goes high enough it causes the brain to swell within a closed container, the skull. This results in:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Worsening headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness
  • Visual disturbance

Called Hypertensive Encephalopathy (encephalo- means “head”), this is an end result of neglected high blood pressure.

Doctor’s Practical Guide:

You have probably noticed by now that you don’t get symptoms of high blood pressure until either organ damage occurs or the pressure is so high that the brain swells. Neither of these should be allowed to happen when both are fully preventable.

Prevention can easily be accomplished by monitoring your own blood pressure which is easy to do and easy to learn. See How and Why at How To Take Blood Pressure This is the only way you can obtain the numerous readings that are necessary and the only way to eliminate the White Coat effect that causes falsely high readings. See the Homepage

Remember that the only BP levels that you want to ever have to be concerned with are the ones that cause no symptoms:

  • Desirable blood pressure levels.
  • Mildly elevated levels of short term duration.

And the levels you want to avoid are:

  • Mildly elevated levels of long term duration.
  • Severe levels causing brain swelling.

Learn to take your own blood pressure and know what it is.


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