There’s a reason high blood pressure (HBD) is called the ‘silent killer’, and that’s because you won’t notice any symptoms. There are numerous myths by people who believe that cases of nosebleeds and headaches are symptomatic of HBD, but this isn’t always the case. The truth is, HBP is often identified when the patient is undergoing a regular medical check-up or as a result of complications.
So, why are there so many myths about HBD symptoms?
It would seem natural that an individual with high blood pressure would have frequent nosebleeds, after all, their blood is being pumped at a high pressure. In fact, of all emergencies as a result of hypertension, only 17% had experienced any nosebleeds while the rest did not. Such a small chance makes the presence of nosebleeds an unreliable symptom for identifying HBP.
As for headaches, the truth is actually a stranger. Popular belief is that a person experiencing frequent symptomatic headaches may actually have HBP, but instead the opposite is true. Those with hypertension actually have less headaches compared to the general population by up to 40%. Nevertheless, the lack of headaches is still not a conclusive measure to determine if someone has HBP.
How do you know you have HBP?
The only sure and proven way to determine whether you have HBP is by checking the systolic and diastolic pressures of the heart using a sphygmomanometer (blood pressure monitor). This is a rubber cuff placed around the arm above the elbow and has been shown to produce accurate readings.
The cuff is wrapped around the upper arm, but not too tightly, then it is inflated either manually or electronically. The pressure of the cuff compresses a major artery running along the bicep until it completely stops blood flow in it. Air is then released from the cuff slowly until the point when a pulse is felt as blood flows through the artery. This is the systolic pressure of the heart, and can be noted by a doctor using a stethoscope or electronically.
Air is let out gradually until the pressure within the artery exceeds that of the rubber cuff, noting the diastolic pressure when the heart is relaxed. Any reading below 120/80mmHg is normal and does not indicate high blood pressure but readings higher than this are characteristic of HBP. Readings with the systolic pressure above 180 or the diastolic pressure above 110 are considered a hypertensive crisis and can lead to complications.
You need to go have a check up if you notice the following:
- Severe headache
- Blood in the urine
- Chest pain
- Pounding in your chest ,neck or ears.
- Difficulty in breathing
Complications due to HBP
Because most people won’t realize that they have a high blood pressure, they will only recognize the problem after it has gone too far. HBP can lead to heart failure if not identified, which is a condition where the heart becomes enlarged in order to pump sufficient body through the over-extended blood vessels. In the end, the heart itself doesn’t get enough blood to supply it with oxygen for the functioning of the heart muscles, and it can’t function. Before reaching this state, a person may even experience a stroke, or an aneurysm, both of which are dangerous and can lead to death.
Other related symptoms:
Never try to self diagnose yourself based on any symptom. It can be possible that these symptoms are caused by some other reason rather than HBP.
Blood spots in the eyes : blood spots in the eyes are very common in diabetic and High blood pressure patients. But ,it is not necessary that each time this symptom is caused due to HBP. Consulting an ophthalmologist would be the best.
Facial flushing : This happens when blood vessels in the face dilate. The red burning face can occur unpredictably or in response to certain triggers such as sun exposure, cold weather, spicy food ,wind ,hot drinks and skin care products. It can also occur due to emotional stress, exposure to heat or hot water, alcohol consumption and exercise, all of which can raise blood pressure temporarily.
Emergency high blood pressure symptoms:
When symptoms do occur ,it is usually only when blood pressure spikes suddenly and extremely enough to be considered a medical emergency.This is called hypertensive crisis.
Hypertensive crisis (usually due to secondary HBP) is defined as a blood pressure reading of 180 or above for the systolic pressure(first number ) or 110 or above for the diastolic pressure ( second number). If you are checking your own blood pressure and get a reading that high ,then wait for a few minutes and check again to make sure that the first reading was accurate. Other symptoms of HBP include:
Even after the second check ,your BP is above 180 ,then immediately consult your doctor.
Emergency hypertensive crisis can result in severe complications, including fluid in the lungs ,brain swelling or bleeding or heart attack.
What is Primary and Secondary HBP ?
Primary HBP : This is usually not caused due to direct result of another health disorder. Most of the time ,this happens due to hereditary reasons.
Secondary HBP : This results in direct response to another health disorder.
HBP during Pregnancy:
There are a lot of changes happening in a women’s body during pregnancy. Therefore it is necessary to keep a check on your blood pressure on a regular basis.Around 10-15% women are likely to have HBP during pregnancy.HBP in women causes due to obesity , lack of exercise, alcohol or smoking habit, medication, pregnancy related issues , carrying more than one baby , late pregnancy.
If it is untreated ,it may lead to a condition called pre eclampsia. Pre eclampsia causes harm to your organs. It also causes proteins in urine. If untreated the mother can experience severe seizure (fits) or at times , it can lead to death.