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This information was reviewed and approved by Cecile S. Rose, MD, MPH (8/1/2019).

Hypertension is called the “Silent Killer” because it generally does not have symptoms that warn you about a developing problem.

There are no signs of high blood pressure in many cases, so most people don’t even know they have it until a health care provider tells them. If you have a family member with high blood pressure, you have an increased risk of developing this condition. The only way to know if you develop hypertension is having your blood pressure checked regularly and noticing any changes in your blood pressure readings.

The most important sign of high blood pressure is your blood pressure reading.


Symptoms that MAY be related to high blood pressure

  • Headaches or nosebleeds: Blood pressure that is very high, 180/120 mm Hg or higher, can cause headaches or nosebleeds and is considered a medical emergency.

  • Blood Spots in the Eyes: It is common for people with diabetes or high blood pressure to develop blood spots in the eyes, even though it is not caused by either condition.

  • Facial flushing: When blood pressure is temporarily higher than normal, the face can flush or turn red. This can happen during exercise, emotional stress and exposure to heat, and when consuming alcohol, hot drinks or spicy food.  

  • Dizziness: Often a side effect of medications, dizziness can also be caused by inner ear disturbance, motion sickness and dehydration. Sudden dizziness can be a warning sign of a stroke. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for stroke.

  • Chest pain: Untreated high blood pressure strains and damages the heart over time and causes a slow buildup of plaque, which leads to a heart attack. Chest pain is the most common symptom of a heart attack.

  • Difficulty breathing: High blood pressure reduces blood flow to the lungs and can make it harder to breathe. Seek medical care immediately if you have difficulty breathing.

  • Irregular heartbeat: Heart palpitations can increase blood pressure and cause anxiety and related symptoms to get worse.

  • Blood in the urine: Kidney disease can cause high blood pressure. Blood in the urine is a sign of kidney disease. If you have high blood pressure, you are more likely to have kidney disease.

  • Pounding in your chest, neck or ears: Sometimes exercise causes a feeling of pulsing or pounding in the ears, neck or chest. Increased blood pressure, too much caffeine and anxiety can also cause that sensation.


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