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Disease & Conditions >>> Blood Pressure Articles & News


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What Are The Symptoms Of High Blood Pressure And When Should I Seek Medical Attention?

High blood pressure usually causes no symptoms.

Even if high blood pressure does cause symptoms, the symptoms are usually mild and nonspecific (vague, or suggesting many different disorders).

Thus, high blood pressure often is labeled "the silent killer."

People who have high blood pressure typically don't know it until their blood pressure is measured.

Sometimes people with high blood pressure have the following symptoms:



Headache

Dizziness

Blurred vision

Nausea




People often do not seek medical care until they have symptoms arising from the organ damage caused by chronic (ongoing, long-term) high blood pressure. The following types of organ damage are commonly seen in chronic high blood pressure:



Heart attack

Heart failure

Stroke or "mini stroke" (transient ischemic attack, TIA)

Kidney failure

Eye damage with loss of vision

Peripheral arterial disease




About 1% of people with high blood pressure do not seek medical care until the high blood pressure is very severe, also called malignant hypertension.

In malignant hypertension, the diastolic blood pressure (the lower number) often exceeds 140 mm Hg.

Malignant hypertension may be associated with headache, light-headedness, or nausea.

This degree of high blood pressure requires emergency hospitalization and lowering of blood pressure to prevent brain hemorrhage or stroke.

It is of utmost importance to realize that high blood pressure can be unrecognized for years, causing no symptoms but causing progressive damage to the heart, other organs, and blood vessels.



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When to Seek Medical Care
Call your health care provider if a routine blood pressure measurement (during health screening) reveals systolic blood pressure higher than 140 mm Hg, diastolic blood pressure higher than 90 mm Hg, or both.

Call your health care provider if you have any of the following symptoms:



Unexplained headache

Sudden or gradual changes in vision

Light-headedness or dizziness

Nausea associated with headache

Chest pain or shortness of breath upon exertion




Tell your health care provider if any family member has or has had high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, or kidney failure.

Go to a hospital emergency department if your blood pressure is high when measured (for example, if your diastolic pressure is greater than 100 mm Hg).

Go to a hospital emergency department if you have any of the following symptoms:



Severe headache

Unexplained dizziness of faintness

Unexplained blurred vision or loss of vision (partial or complete)

Chest pain or breathlessness that is severe or occurs at rest

Unexplained sudden weakness or other symptoms of stroke


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