High blood pressure or Hypertension is a condition when a person’s blood pressure is extremely higher than the average or normal range. Your heart is beating up too fast and that’s never a good sign! One of the most dangerous aspects of hypertension is that you may actually not know that you are suffering from it. As a matter of fact, about one-third of the people who have hypertension don’t know about it. The only way to learn if your blood pressure is higher than normal is by getting regular check-ups. This is increasingly important for people who have a close relative having high blood pressure.
Mostly, high blood pressure has no obvious symptoms to exhibit that something is wrong with the individual. This is why it is usually referred to as a silent killer. High blood pressure cannot be cured like a regular disease, but it can be managed easily by making some lifestyle changes, eating habits, and taking prescribed medication. It tends to develop rather slowly over time and can be either primary or related to other causes.
In about 10% of cases, hypertension is caused by some other disease. This case is known as secondary hypertension. On the brighter side, when the root cause of this kind of hypertension gets treated, the patient’s blood pressure levels return to their normal range or lower down significantly. People exposed to diseases or conditions such as chronic kidney disease; tumours or other diseases of the adrenal gland; aorta coarctation; pregnancy; use of birth control pills; addiction to alcohol; thyroid dysfunction, etc. can easily develop secondary hypertension.
A malignant hypertension is a condition that develops rapidly and often leads to some type of organ damage. A person with a malignant hypertension typically has a blood pressure that’s above 180/120, whereas a normal blood pressure is lower than 120/80. Malignant hypertension should be considered as a medical emergency and not ignored or taken lightly at all. People exposed to diseases or situations such as collagen vascular disease, like scleroderma; kidney disease; spinal cord injuries; tumour of the adrenal gland; use of medications like birth control pills and MAOIs; use of illegal drugs such as cocaine; etc. tend to develop malignant hypertension. Missing your dose of regular blood pressure medications can also cause the condition to develop. The key point to note is that malignant hypertension is rare, but should not be considered as non-existent. It is equally harmful for the body and even considered life-threatening.
Symptoms to look for
If are suffering from highly extreme blood pressure, there may be certain signs and symptoms to look out for, such as:
- Severe headache or confusion
If you are experiencing severe headaches repeatedly, feeling confused more often; or feeling mentally exhausted easily, you might be suffering from hypertension. The reason for this condition is because a heightened blood pressure causes damage to the brain and the body on the whole.
- Vision problems or difficulty breathing; fatigue
Hypertension can also affect your vision or lungs. This is because a high blood pressure can often lead to damage of the organs. If you are experiencing a blurry vision or an impaired vision, do take out time and get your blood pressure checked. Likewise, if you are getting tired easily without much exercise, or feeling like getting short of breath, there may be a chance that you have high blood pressure.
- Blood in the urine
Hypertension can be caused by kidney diseases, known as renal hypertension. One key symptom of renal hypertension is witnessing blood in the urine. This condition happens as the arteries that deliver blood to the kidneys get narrowed due to hypertension. When kidneys receive lower blood flow, they tend to act as if the low flow is triggered due to dehydration in the body. So, they react by releasing hormones which stimulate the body to retain sodium and water. The blood vessels get filled up with additional fluids, and blood pressure progressively goes up.
- Chest pain; Irregular heartbeat; Pounding in your chest, neck, or ears
As obvious as they sound, these symptoms are related to your heart and it is not difficult for people to ignore them or take them casually. A chest pain or irregular heartbeat often gets ignored because people may attribute them to stress or fatigue. It is always advisable to get regular check-ups for blood pressure when you notice any anomaly in your body.
If you witness any of the above mentioned symptoms, it’s to pay a visit to a physician immediately. You never know you could be having a hypertensive crisis that may cause a stroke or heart attack. Hypertension that is left untreated can cause other serious diseases as well, including chronic heart diseases, failure of the kidney, and eye problems.
Some inconclusively related symptoms
There are a few symptoms which may not be directly related to hypertension, but can hint towards it.
- Blood spots in the eye: Known as Subconjunctival Hemorrhage, blood spots in the eyes are common in individuals with diabetes or high blood pressure levels.
- Flushing in the face: Facial flushing can occur when the blood vessels in the face start to dilate. It may occur unpredictably or in response to sun exposure, spicy food, cold weather or winds, hot drinks, use of some specific skin-care products, etc.
- Dizziness: Dizziness can often be a side effect of blood pressure medicines; but it is not caused by high blood pressure. However, it should never be ignored, especially when the onset is sudden. A sudden episode of dizziness is a warning sign of a stroke and high blood pressure is a huge risk factor for stroke.
Being aware of your risk factors, attributes, and symptoms that can make you likely to develop hypertension always helps. Awareness of the risks can help you identify and implement the positive changes that you need to make. Do everything you can to avoid the hazardous problems that can be caused from your blood pressure being too high for too long.