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How Do You Feel When You Have High Blood Pressure?

Reviewed on 3/18/2020

Ask a Doctor

I just turned 46 this year, and I haven’t been feeling myself, lately. I have headaches all the time and feel dizzy if I stand up too fast. I chalked it up to just getting old, but hypertension and heart disease runs in my family. Should I get checked for high blood pressure? What does it feel like to have high blood pressure?

Doctor's Response

Absolutely talk to your doctor, as headache and dizziness are two symptoms of hypertension. 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 complications because organs are stressed when they are exposed to the elevated pressures.

High blood pressure brain symptoms:

High blood pressure and heart symptoms:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness
  • Nausea and vomiting

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. These types of organ damage are commonly seen in chronic high blood pressure.

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 or a hypertensive emergency.

  • In malignant hypertension, the diastolic blood pressure (the lower number) often exceeds 120 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.

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Reviewed on 3/18/2020
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