High blood pressure is generally a chronic condition and is often associated with few or no symptoms.
When symptoms do occur, it is usually when blood pressure spikes suddenly and extremely enough to be considered a medical emergency.
Rare symptoms include dizzy spells, headaches, and nosebleeds.
High blood pressure is often associated with few or no symptoms. Many people have it for years without knowing it. However, just because high blood pressure is often symptomless doesn't mean it is harmless. In fact, uncontrolled high blood pressure, or hypertension, causes damage to your arteries. High blood pressure is also a risk factor for stroke, heart attack, and other cardiovascular problems.
High blood pressure is generally a chronic condition. There are two major categories of high blood pressure (hypertension): secondary hypertension and primary hypertension.
Secondary hypertension is high blood pressure that is the direct result of a separate health condition.
Primary hypertension (or essential hypertension) is high blood pressure that doesn’t result from a specific cause, but instead, develops gradually over time. Many such cases are attributed to hereditary factors.
Typically, the only way to know you have it is to get your blood pressure tested.
Rare High Blood Pressure Symptoms
Rarely, people with chronic high blood pressure might have symptoms such as:
Emergency High Blood Pressure Symptoms
When symptoms do occur, it is usually only when blood pressure spikes suddenly and extremely enough to be considered a medical emergency. This is called a hypertensive crisis.
Hypertensive crisis (usually due to secondary high blood pressure) is defined as a blood pressure reading of 180 or above for the systolic pressure (first number) or 110 or above for the diastolic pressure (second number). If you are checking your own blood pressure and get a reading that high, wait a few minutes and then check again to make sure the first reading was accurate. Other symptoms of a hypertensive crisis may include:
shortness of breath
After waiting a few minutes, if your second blood pressure reading is still 180 or above, don't wait to see whether your blood pressure comes down on its own. Call 911 immediately. If that isn't an option, have someone drive you to the emergency room.
Emergency hypertensive crisis can result in severe complications, including fluid in the lungs, brain swelling or bleeding, a tear in the heart's main artery, stroke, or seizures for pregnant women with eclampsia.