In the vast majority of cases, there are no clear symptoms of high blood pressure (also known as hypertension), which can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and eye problems if untreated. The only way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to get your blood pressure checked on a regular basis. This is especially important if you have a close relative who has high blood pressure.
If your blood pressure is extremely high, there may be certain symptoms to look out for, including:
Malignant hypertension is extremely high blood pressure that develops rapidly and causes some type of organ damage. "Normal" blood pressure is below 140/90. A person with malignant hypertension has a blood pressure that's typically above 180/120. Malignant hypertension should be treated as a medical emergency.
If you have any of these hypertension symptoms, see a doctor immediately. You could be having a hypertensive crisis that could lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Call Your Doctor About High Blood Pressure If:
Your diastolic pressure -- the second, or bottom, number in a blood pressure reading -- suddenly shoots above 120 ,or your systolic pressure, the first number, is over 180; you may have malignant hypertension, a life-threatening condition that can result in heart attack, stroke, kidney and eye problems.
You are experiencing severe headaches, nausea, blurred vision, and confusion or memory loss; this may be a sign of malignant hypertension.
You are pregnant and develop hypertension; symptoms may include severe headache and sudden swelling of the legs. High blood pressure during pregnancy can affect not only your own health, but also the health of your unborn child.
You're taking drugs for high blood pressure and experiencing worrisome side effects, such as drowsiness, constipation, dizziness, or loss of sexual function; your doctor may prescribe a different anti-hypertensive drug.
SOURCES: JAMA Express, "Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressue," (JNC VII), May 15, 2003. "Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association," Summer 2003. Elliot W., "Clinical Features and Management of Selected Hypertensive Emergencies," Journal of Clinical Malignant Phase Hypertension, The West Birmingham Malignant Hypertension Register. Journal of Human Hypertension, Jan. 2005. The American Heart Association.