High blood pressure is a persistent medical condition in which the blood pressure in a person’s arteries is dangerously elevated, making it harder for blood to flow through these passages. The medical name for high blood pressure is hypertension, but it is often called “the silent killer” because high blood pressure often displays no symptoms. For these reason, sufferers often don’t know that they have hypertension until they measure their blood pressure. High blood pressure is believed to affect 1 in 3 American adults, or about 75 million people. The same number of adults in America has above normal blood pressure readings, or pre-hypertension.
Causes of hypertension include stress, inactivity, smoking, obesity, a salty diet, alcohol abuse, old age and genetics. It can also be the product of an underlying medical condition like kidney disease. The condition is best treated by making changes to lifestyle and diet. When the condition is not effectively managed, high blood pressure is a factor that contributes to heart attack, stroke, and can damage arteries, your heart, brain, kidneys, eyes and cause sexual dysfunction.
Determining the physical symptoms of high blood pressure is a controversial matter. Many of the symptoms associated with high blood pressure are easily attributed to other factors. High blood pressure typically will not cause symptoms until the condition has become serious. A hypertension crisis is a serious medical condition that can lead to a stroke and requires urgent medical treatment.
Below is a list with eight physical symptoms of high blood pressure. Be careful to watch out for these physical symptoms of high blood pressure and try to monitor their frequency and intensity so that you can better explain them to a medical professional.
1. Severe headache
Intense headache have long been believed to be a symptom of hypertension, but the American Medical Association now maintains that hypertension headache is only an extreme symptom resulting from blood pressure readings about 180/120. Headache related to high blood pressure does not have the same basic features as migraine, which originates from a different part of the head. Hypertension can put pressure on the brain causing pain.
In extreme cases, the physical symptoms of high blood pressure can cause edema, or swelling in the brain, causing the organ to skull and has no space to expand. This pressure can cause blood to leak from the blood vessels in the brain. This extreme headache will likely accompany other symptom of a hypertensive crisis like dizziness, confusion, blurred vision, and even seizures.
While dizziness and feeling lightheaded might actually be a side effect of certain blood pressure medications, it is not believed to be caused by high blood pressure. At the same time, dizziness is not to be taken lightly. Take cases in which dizziness comes about suddenly seriously. Sudden dizziness, confusion, trouble with balance, coordination and walking are all early warning signs of a stroke. High blood pressure can be a major contributor to stroke.
3. Fatigue or confusion
High blood pressure is often blamed for cognitive decline as well as exhaustion and fatigue. As the tense pressure levels damage arteries, it blocks blood flow to the brain which can affect the brain’s ability to function. This can include feeling tired or having low energy all the time. Untreated high blood pressure can also affect memory and the ability to solve problem. These symptoms are also related to certain medications used to treat blood pressure conditions, especially if these medicines are taken improperly.
4. Blurred vision
Like other blood vessels, the small and sensitive blood vessels that supply blood to the eyes can be damaged by high blood pressure. Sudden blurred vision may be symptom of this damage. This damage to the retina is called retinopathy and can cause bleeding in the eye or loss of vision. Other related conditions can impair vision or even damage the nerves in the eye.
5. Chest pain & difficulty breathing
High blood pressure can attack the network of blood vessels that connect the heart to the lungs. Known as pulmonary hypertension, this condition can be extremely painful and cause shortness of breath, racing heartbeat, dizziness, fatigue and swelling in legs or ankles.
6. Blood in the urine
Blood in the urine can be a sign that high blood pressure caused kidneys problems. The kidneys play an important role in the body, cleaning excess fluid and waste from your blood by filter these materials out of blood. Having clogged or damaged blood vessels blocks the kidneys from performing this essential task.
The physical symptoms of high blood pressure can damage the blood vessels surrounding and inside the kidneys. Damage to the kidney is known as nephropathy. When paired with diabetes, high blood pressure can make this damage much worse. One condition called microscopic hematuria involves damage in the tiny blood vessels around the kidney. Left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to kidney failure, scarring, or even an aneurysm in the kidney artery.
7. Irregular heartbeat
There’s a reason the heart is called a “ticker.” The heart is the main engine responsible for pumping blood throughout the body. High blood pressure can affect the heartbeat in a number of ways. When high blood pressure causes the arteries that supply blood to the heart to become damaged, it impacts the rate that blood flows through the body.
Arterial damage can cause chest pain, arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat) and even heart attack. As damage forces the heart to work harder than normal to pump blood throughout the body, the left ventricle of the heart can stiffen or become engorged. Known as an enlarged left heart, this can also affect heartbeat, ultimately causing heart failure. Pay attention to episodes of irregular heart beat.
8. Sexual dysfunction
The male erection is the result of blood flow to the penis. It stands to reason that the kind of difficulty with blood flow that high blood pressure can cause would affect this most intimate aspect of life. Erectile dysfunction is more likely to occur in men with untreated high blood pressure. Women may also experience sexual problems related to the limited circulation caused by high blood pressure.