What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?

Joseph H. Henderson, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Symptoms are not a reliable guide to the presence of high blood pressure. Typically, high blood pressure does not cause any symptoms. However, severe elevation of blood pressure can occasionally cause symptoms such as headaches, blurred vision, chest pain, and shortness of breath.

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The symptoms of high blood pressure are very often nonexistent; in fact, most people who have high blood pressure experience no symptoms whatsoever. Sometimes people will describe a sense of pounding in the head, but for most of them, high blood pressure is a silent problem.
Learn more from Dr. Michael Rakotz on behalf of NorthShore University about the symptoms of high blood pressure.
The following signs and symptoms may be related to your hypertension:
  • blurring of vision or loss of vision
  • chest pain
  • dizziness or fainting
  • mild to severe (very bad) headache
  • dudden unexplained body weakness
  • trouble breathing
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Hypertension (or high blood pressuere) is called the "silent killer" cause the majority of people with it have NO SYMPTOMS. However, headaches, especially pounding ones, are a symptom. Hypertension or high blood pressure is the leading cause of arterial injury -- injury to your blood vessels. You repair those injuries to your arteries with cholesterol plaques -- so heart disease, strokes, kidney disease, impotence, decay in orgasm quality and even premature wrinkling and lack of energy can be symptoms of high blood pressure.

Since 70% of people in developed countries have some form of high blood pressure by age 70, and it causes so much disability that can be prevented by lifestyle (yes, food choices and portion size, physical activity, stress management, and meditation) or medication treatments, you should know your numbers and get them to 115 over 75, no matter what.

Typically, high blood pressure doesn't have any symptoms. However, if left untreated it can cause a lot of damage to your organs and that may cause symptoms like headaches, vomiting and fatigue. Your doctor usually checks your blood pressure every time you come in and if you don't go for a check up at least twice a year, you may want to reconsider. Catching your high blood pressure early will allow you to treat it and lessen the chance that it will cause serious damage.

Most people have no unusual feelings with high blood pressure. Unlike other health conditions, there is no major symptom of high blood pressure that indicates you have a serious health problem until you have a major heart attack or stroke. Or if you are lucky, your doctor will check your blood pressure at a routine check-up and alert you to the problem of hypertension and the need for treatment.

Use caution with high blood pressure. Once you have hypertension, it usually stays with you for a lifetime. But if you fail to seek treatment for hypertension, you will pay the price with an increased risk of heart disease, heart attack, kidney disease, stroke, blindness and other very serious illnesses.
Emilia Klapp
Nutrition & Dietetics
In most cases, high blood pressure, also called hypertension, has no symptoms or warning signs unless it has reached a life-threatening stage. Most people find out their blood pressure is too high through visiting their doctors. Severe hypertension can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, or vomiting, but this is rare.
Rarely, people with high blood pressure may have dizziness, headaches, or nose bleeds. However, most people have no signs or symptoms. For this reason, you should have your blood pressure checked regularly even if you're feeling fine.
Edtrina Moss
Ambulatory Care
Hypertension or "high blood pressure" is often called the 'silent killer.' Usually symptoms of hypertension don't manifest until the blood pressure is nearly life threatening. Unmanaged or uncontrolled hypertension over time can provide subtle clues that something is wrong. One common symptom is frequent headaches that are unmanaged by regular analgesics. Another symptom could be fatigue.

There is great news! Frequent checkups with your healthcare provider will help identify the early signs of hypertension. This will give you and your healthcare team a greater chance of controlling and managing the disease before extensive loss to vital organs occur.
Sameer A. Sayeed, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
High blood pressure can and usually goes unnoticed as there are usually few or no symptoms associated with it unless it is very high. This is why it so dangerous. It can be present for a long period of time and go unnoticed, while causing damage to the organs in the body, and symptoms only develop once there is some end-organ damage such as damage to the heart, kidneys, brain or major blood vessels. If blood pressure is very high, symptoms such as dizziness, headache, flushing and rapid heart rate may be present, but in most routine cases of high blood pressure, again, these tend to be asymptomatic.
Unfortunately, high blood pressure has few, if any, symptoms. As a result, regular testing at a doctor’s office (or using a home device if recommended) is important. The higher the pressure, the greater the risk for heart disease and stroke.
High blood pressure (hypertension) often causes no symptoms, even if severe. You can have high blood pressure for years without knowing it. That is why it is called a silent killer. The only way you can tell if your blood pressure is too high is to have it measured.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.