High blood pressure symptoms: The six signs your hypertension could be serious

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High blood pressure means your heart has to work harder to pump blood around your body. This is always a serious problem and if you ignore it you could develop a heart attack and stroke, kidney failure, heart failure, problems with your sight and vascular dementia.

Around 50 percent of heart attacks and strokes are associated with high blood pressure, and high blood pressure is often easily treatable.

Things like drinking too much alcohol, not doing enough exercise and eating a fatty and unhealthy diet typically cause high blood pressure. However, sometimes it is caused by medication or an existing condition.

Although your arteries are stretchy to cope with your blood pressure going up and down, your arteries lose their stretchiness and become stiff or narrow if you always have high blood pressure.

Narrow arteries make it easier for fatty material to clog them up and that’s what leads to a heart attack or stroke.

High blood pressure rarely has any noticeable symptoms, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to ignore it.

You need to get your blood pressure checked on a regular basis by your GP or pharmacist. Or, you can buy a sphygmomanometer and do it yourself at home.

When you have your blood pressure measured, the reading is written as two numbers.

The first number is when the pressure is at its highest (or systolic pressure), and the second is at its lowest (or diastolic pressure).

For example, your reading will be something like 140/90 mmHg (said ‘140 over 90’).

Your blood pressure should be under 140/90 mmHg, and possible hypertension is either between 140 and 180 mmHg (systolic) or between 90 and 110 mmHg (diastolic).

Severe hypertension is anything higher than 180 mmHg (systolic) or 110mmHg (diastolic).

If your blood pressure becomes very high, you could experience a hypertensive crisis.

This is the umbrella term for hypertensive urgency and hypertensive emergency, both of which are conditions that can lead to stroke or heart attack.

Extremely high blood pressure is 180 mmHg or higher, or a diastolic pressure of 120 mmHg or higher.

When this happens, your blood vessels become inflamed and may leak fluid or blood, leaving the heart unable to pump blood as effectively as it needs to.

According to WebMD, hypertensive urgency occurs when blood pressure spikes to readings of 180/110 or higher but there is no damage to the body’s organs.

Blood pressure can be brought down safely within a few hours with blood pressure medication in these cases.

Hypertensive emergency means that blood pressure is so high that organ damage can occur.

In these cases, blood pressure must be reduced immediately to prevent imminent organ damage.

The six signs your hypertension could be serious

Symptoms of a hypertensive emergency include:

  • Headache or blurred vision
  • Increasing confusion
  • Seizure
  • Increasing chest pain
  • Increasing shortness of breath
  • Swelling or oedema (fluid buildup in the tissues)

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