Can Signs Of High Blood Pressure Be Seen...

by the casual observer? Are signs of high blood pressure red flags? Does it even have any? Doctor’s Practical Guide answers these questions.

Before discussing signs of high blood pressure let us first define the term "sign". A sign is a finding that is detectable by one or more of the body's senses including touch, with or without the aid of a device. In medicine a sign means that a finding is associated with a disease but not always present. Neither does it always indicate the presence of disease. It basically means that a finding is present more often than random occurrence and that one should think of the associated disease and the possibility of its presence.For instance: Pallor(paleness) is a sign of anemia. But not all anemic patients are pale nor are all pale patients anemic.

There are Several Kinds of Signs of High Blood Pressure:

  • Those that can be appreciated by the unaided senses.
  • Those that can be appreciated only with the aid of some device or a laboratory test, or other kinds of tests.

There Are Two Types of Hypertension:

  • Essential or Primary High Blood Pressure. Encompasses 85 to 90% of cases. No causative disease state can be demonstrated. Has no grossly telltale signs.

  • Secondary High Blood Pressure. Includes 10% of cases. Has an underlying disease state causing the hypertension. No grossly telltale signs of high blood pressure here either. However, there often are signs of the underlying/causative disease state.

The First and Foremost Sign of High Blood Pressure:

IS…Your blood pressure reading! It's not only a sign but it makes the diagnosis. Or rules it out. This is why it is important for you to learn to take your own blood pressure. It's easy. See this page on how and why at How To Take Blood Pressure

Basically, your reading is the only sign of high blood pressure itself. All other signs of hypertension are either signs of an underlying causative condition or signs of target organ damage, that is the hypertension has gone on long enough to cause damage to a part of the body.

Signs of target organ damage:

  • Changes in the arterioles in the retina, seen with an ophthalmoscope.
  • A fourth heart sound heard with the stethoscope.
  • Broad notched P-wave abnormalities seen on EKG.
  • Left ventricular hypertrophy seen on echocardiogram.
  • Dilated heart seen on chest x-ray (a late finding).
  • Numerous abnormalities of the urine seen by laboratory tests.
  • Compromise of kidney function shown by laboratory tests.

Signs of an underlying causative condition:

  • Snoring, daytime drowsiness (obstructive sleep apnea).
  • Edema plus many lab abnormalities (renal disease).
  • Abdominal bruit or murmur (renal artery obstruction).
  • Decreased femoral pulses (coarctation of the aorta).
  • Weight gain, weakness, hirsutism, amenorrhea, and a host of others (Cushing's syndrome).
  • Palpitations, tachycardia and really high pressure (pheochromocytoma).
  • Weight loss, hair loss and bradycardia or slow heart rate (hypothyroidism).
  • Weight loss, palpitations, tremor and tachycardia (hyperthyroidism).
  • Kidney stones (hyperparathyroidism).
  • Enlargement of hands, feet and tongue (acromegaly).

Doctor's Practical Guide:

The conclusion one can draw from the above information is that hypertension, without underlying cause or target organ damage, has no signs. Nor symptoms either.

The popular belief that dizziness, red face, headache, fatigue, nosebleed and nervousness are signs of high blood pressure is false.

Note that both high and low thyroid can cause hypertension. They can both fool you, too.

The big four of organs targeted by hypertension are the heart (heart failure), the brain (stroke), the coronary arteries (heart attack) and the kidneys (kidney failure).

Don't concern yourself with trying to ascertain anything about high blood pressure by signs or symptoms. Learn how to take your pressure yourself and you'll always know exactly where you stand. No false elevations, no error of cuff size or technique. See this page How To Take Blood Pressure

See also my detailed instruction booklet: How To Take Blood Pressure Booklet

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