Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
The risks associated with high blood pressure are serious. If left untreated, it can weaken your heart and potentially cause a heart attack, increase your risk of stroke, contribute to your chances of dementia, cause kidney failure, and a long list of other potential unpleasant health problems.
Basically, high blood pressure is really bad news. Or at least it can be if you don’t identify it and take steps to reduce it as early as possible, which begs the obvious question: how do you tell when you have high blood pressure?
The Signs of High Blood Pressure Are…Largely Invisible
Unfortunately, high blood pressure is one of the most dangerous conditions you can have that’s largely symptomless. But research has shown that high blood pressure could even be exacerbating your parents’ memory problems. In most cases, the way people learn they have it is when their doctor tells them during a visit.
If it’s something you’re really worried about, you can buy a blood pressure cuff to check your blood pressure at home. They’re only about $10-20. If your readings show less than 120 for your systolic pressure and 80 for your diastolic pressure, then you’re good. Once your numbers start getting above that, you move into the categories of hypertension that need to be addressed with the help of a doctor.
Symptoms of Hypertensive Crisis
High blood pressure itself is usually symptomless, but if it gets bad enough before you realize you have it, you can move into the more serious stage of a hypertensive crisis.
At that point, you will start showing symptoms. These can include:
- Severe headaches
- Shortness of breath
If your hypertension reaches this point, you should consider it an emergency and head to the hospital right away or call 911 if you don’t have the means to get there yourself. If treated, you can start to work to bring your blood pressure down, but if you wait too long, your risk of serious complications like brain swelling, stroke, and seizures will go up.
What Can You Do About It?
If it’s symptomless, what power do you have to catch it before it reaches emergency levels? Obviously, your best move is to talk to your doctor about it at every checkup. Ask where your blood pressure levels fall in the spectrum of normal to serious and whether you should be concerned.
If your doctor tells you that your blood pressure is too high or starting to get to that point, talk about actions you can take now to bring it down. A healthier diet, a commitment to exercise, and reducing how much salt you eat can all make a big difference.
High blood pressure can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. As long as you recognize it in its early stages and take steps to improve your health, you can avoid most of the risks associated with it. Let your doctor know any concerns you have, they can help you work out the best plan to keep your blood pressure at a healthy level and avoid that scary list of health issues hypertension causes.