Do You Have High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure is referred to as the silent killer

Stress can lead to high blood pressure.
Stress can lead to high blood pressure. Aping Vision / STS/Digital Vision/Getty Images

High blood pressure is a rather unique condition, because unlike most health issues, it usually has no identifying symptoms. For this reason, blood pressure is commonly referred to as the "silent killer" because it can cause serious injury, or in the worse case, death, if undiscovered or left untreated.

Hypertension May Have No Noticeable Signs

While having a cold will make your nose stuffy and heart problems may make you weak or cause pain, high blood pressure can exist for years without any noticeable signs.

In addition, people with high blood pressure typically carry on with their normal lives, unaware that anything is wrong. There are a few key high blood pressure symptoms to look for, however, so be sure you know the signs.

High Blood Pressure is Often Found Incidentally

Most people first discover that they have high blood pressure during a routine visit to their doctor for an unrelated complaint, or a regularly scheduled health maintenance appointment. Another common time for diagnosis is during a woman’s first prenatal visit during pregnancy. Since most first-time mothers tend to be young, regular visits to the doctor aren’t a priority until they become pregnant, leading to an uncharacteristically high rate of diagnoses in this patient population.

High Blood Pressure Can Manifest as Other Problems

High blood pressure can cause symptoms via other organ systems. For example, high blood pressure damages blood vessels and can lead to dangerous complications such as heart attack and stroke.

This damage may, in turn, cause symptoms that are serious enough for a visit to the doctor.

When high blood pressure manifests in this way, it can show up as:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Low exercise tolerance
  • Nausea
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Episodes of confusion
  • Tightness, pressure, or pain in the chest or arms

Everyone Should Have their Blood Pressure Checked

Because high blood pressure can exist silently for many years, it is important that everyone have their blood pressure checked on a regular basis.

Anyone can develop high blood pressure — even children — and the disease can cause serious problems if not treated appropriately.

If you've never had your blood pressure checked, or can’t remember what your blood pressure is, then you should call and make an appointment to see your doctor. Even those without a dedicated primary care doctor can have their blood pressure checked inexpensively at a walk-in clinic or urgent care center.

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