High blood pressure often doesn’t cause symptoms but it can put strain on your heart and blood vessels, as well as your kidneys, brain and even your eyes.
Because high blood pressure can increase your risk of some life threatening illnesses, it’s important to keep an eye on your reading.
Your blood pressure reading consists of two values. The first is the systolic pressure - this is the force your heart uses to pump the blood around your body. The second, lower figure is the diastolic pressure - the level of resistance to the blood flow in your blood vessels.
High blood pressure is considered to be 140/90 or higher.
Ideal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60 and 120/80.
If your blood pressure reading comes out at between 120/80 and 140/90 you might be at risk of developing high blood pressure and you should take steps to control it. For people with diabetes or chronic kidney disease, the blood pressure reading should be below 130/80.
What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?
It’s unlikely that just having a high blood pressure will make you feel ill, unless it’s very high. Therefore, it is important to get your blood pressure levels checked on a regular basis.
Can high blood pressure cause headaches?
It’s possible that if your blood pressure is very high, you could experience headaches and blurred vision. This may happen if your blood pressure is in the region of 180 over 110 or higher - and this can be very dangerous.
In a study published in the journal Neurology, people with higher systolic blood pressure were actually found to be up to 40 percent less likely to have headaches than people with healthier readings - but the frequency with which you experience headaches is very unlikely to be due to your blood pressure.
Can high blood pressure cause tinnitus?
Although it’s not a direct cause of tinnitus, it’s possible that high blood pressure can make tinnitus more noticeable if you already have it.
Does high blood pressure cause nosebleeds?
It’s unlikely that you experience a nosebleed due to your blood pressure unless you’re in hypertensive crisis - ie experiencing dangerously high blood pressure. Although in one study, 17 per cent of people treated for high blood pressure emergencies in hospital also had nosebleeds - 83 per cent didn’t have this symptom.
Can high blood pressure cause tiredness?
If you have high blood pressure, your heart has to work harder. This causes it to become thicker and stiffer, and less able to work as it should, which can lead to heart failure, over time. One symptom of heart failure is tiredness.
If your doctor suspects that you may have had high blood pressure for some time, you might be offered a test to make sure that there’s been no damage to your heart muscles.
Does high blood pressure always cause symptoms?
In most cases, high blood pressure doesn’t cause symptoms until it becomes very high. You may not know that you have high blood pressure until you are diagnosed during a routine check at the doctors, so it’s important to attend regular check ups.
What are the symptoms of hypertensive crisis?
This is when blood pressure is extremely high, and if you suspect that you may be experiencing hypertensive crisis, you must seek emergency medical help.
The most common symptoms are:
- Severe headaches, accompanied by confusion and blurred vision
- Severe chest pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Severe anxiety
- Shortness of breath
High blood pressure in pregnancy
Pregnancy-induced high blood pressure affects around 16 per cent of pregnant women and usually occurs in the later stage of pregnancy, after 32 weeks.
There are usually no symptoms, and it’s picked up during routine blood pressure and urine checks. It can lead to a condition called preeclampsia, so your midwife will need to monitor any changes in your blood pressure very closely. Although there aren’t usually any symptoms, in some cases you may experience
- bad headaches
- blurred vision or flashing lights
- pain just below your ribs
- being sick
- swollen hands, feet or face
Getting high blood pressure diagnosed
You can ask for a blood pressure check at any time. It’s a very simple check which won’t take long. You can have your blood pressure checked at:
- at your doctor’s surgery
- at selected pharmacies
- at an NHS Health Check appointment if you’re aged 40-74 and living in England