High Blood Pressure Symptoms – High blood pressure, or hypertension as it is also called, can be a silent killer. While there are many erroneous ideas about what symptoms affected individuals present, the truth is high blood pressure does not usually manifest any symptoms. In fact, the symptoms ascribed to high blood pressure are non-specific and when they do occur as a result of high blood pressure only occur when the blood pressure has reached a dangerously high level. So let’s dispel some common myths surrounding symptoms of high blood pressure.
The Headache Myth
It was long believed that high blood pressure leads to headaches, but the reverse is actually the case. For individuals with high systolic rates, they are 40% less likely to have headaches than those with normal blood pressure. It is not until blood pressure reaches dangerous levels, systolic over 180 or diastolic over 110, in what is called hypertensive crisis, that headaches are present as a result of the high blood pressure.
In addition, researchers looked at the pulse pressure of individuals. Pulse pressure refers to the change in blood pressure that occurs when the heart contracts and is calculated by finding the difference between diastolic and systolic pressure. In individuals with higher pulse pressure, headaches were 50% less likely. Doctors theorize the increased pulse pressure stiffens the blood vessels, which hinder the nerve endings so pain is not felt as it normally would be.
The Nosebleed Misconception
It was commonly thought that nosebleeds indicated possible high blood pressure but the research does not support this. A study done of people admitted to the hospital with high blood pressure revealed that 83% reported no nosebleeds. Some people in the early stages of high blood pressure have reported more nosebleeds than usual but there are too many causes of nosebleeds (dry air, allergies, sinusitis, etc.) to make this a reliable indicator of high blood pressure. Instead, talk to your doctor about your nosebleeds so he/she can investigate.
There are a few symptoms that are associated with high blood pressure but may not be direct symptoms so if you experience any of these, consult your doctor for a proper diagnosis.
As mentioned above, symptoms of high blood pressure may only be present once blood pressure has reached dangerously high levels. This is referred to as hypertensive crisis, or malignant hypertension, when blood pressure is above 180 systolic or 110 diastolic. The patient may experience severe headaches, severe anxiety, shortness of breath, vomiting, chest pain, faintness, and nosebleeds. In this case, emergency medical treatment is vital.
Seeking Medical Care
So given the fact that high blood pressure presents with no symptoms, what should you do? For those individuals with no risk factors and under the age of 40, get your blood pressure checked every two years. For those over 40 or with risk factors for high blood pressure, have your blood pressure checked every year. Don’t worry if you have one high reading; in order to diagnose high blood pressure, there must be a pattern of high readings as blood pressure varies throughout the day.
Given the lack of symptoms associated with high blood pressure, it is vitally important to regularly monitor your blood pressure. High blood pressure that is left untreated can lead to heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, eye damage, peripheral artery disease and aneurysms.
If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, do not panic, it can be treated and the prognosis is generally positive. High blood pressure may be treated initially with diet changes, weight loss and exercise although it will often progress to requiring medications. Alternative therapies may also include acupuncture, relaxation techniques and high blood pressure supplements.
While it is scary to think about the “silent killer” that could be lurking within you, with proper monitoring, diagnosis and treatment, you can continue to live a healthy life.