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High Blood Pressure (cont.)

High Blood Pressure Symptoms

High blood pressure usually causes no symptoms and high blood pressure often is labeled "the silent killer." People who have high blood pressure typically don't know it until their blood pressure is measured.

Sometimes people with markedly elevated blood pressure may develop:

  • headache,
  • dizziness,
  • blurred vision,
  • nausea and vomiting, and
  • chest pain and shortness of breath.

People often do not seek medical care until they have symptoms arising from the organ damage caused by chronic (ongoing, long-term) high blood pressure. The following types of organ damage are commonly seen in chronic high blood pressure:

  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA)
  • Kidney failure
  • Eye damage with progressive vision loss
  • Peripheral arterial disease causing leg pain with walking (claudication)
  • Outpouchings of the aorta, called aneurysms

About 1% of people with high blood pressure do not seek medical care until the high blood pressure is very severe, a condition known as malignant hypertension.

  • In malignant hypertension, the diastolic blood pressure (the lower number) often exceeds 140 mm Hg.
  • Malignant hypertension may be associated with headache, lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, and stroke like symptoms
  • Malignant hypertension requires emergency intervention and lowering of blood pressure to prevent brain hemorrhage or stroke.

It is of utmost importance to realize that high blood pressure can be unrecognized for years, causing no symptoms but causing progressive damage to the heart, other organs, and blood vessels.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/2/2014

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