Blood Pressure

Signs and Symptoms of high blood pressure

What are the signs and symptoms of high blood pressure? Usually none. That’s why many people don’t realize they have high blood pressure.

High blood pressure is often found during a routine office visit when your health care professional checks it along with other vital signs.

In some cases, people with more severe high blood pressure may have:

  • Severe headaches
  • Vision changes
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Nosebleeds
  • Confusion

What Increases Your Risk?

Some things can make high blood pressure more likely. For example:

  • Being older or getting older (as we age, blood vessels get stiffer)
  • Being very overweight
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Having a family history of high blood pressure
  • Eating too much salt
  • Having diabetes
  • Smoking

In addition, African-Americans are more prone to having high blood pressure. Prolonged stress also can increase your blood pressure. And, in some cases, having low levels of potassium in your diet make it more likely for you to have the condition.

Other health conditions such as sleep apnea, chronic kidney disease and high blood pressure during pregnancy (preeclampsia) can trigger high blood pressure. Certain medications can also cause your blood pressure to rise, for example some diet pills and cold medicines.

If you have high blood pressure, your health care professional will consider and rule out possible causes. It’s an important step because understanding the cause will help guide how you manage your blood pressure.

Exams and Tests

How does my health care professional know for sure that I have high blood pressure? If your blood pressure seems high, your health care professional may measure your blood pressure a few times or ask that you take and record your blood pressure at home. Having multiple readings often helps to confirm you have high blood pressure.

During your office visit, your health care professional will take your health history and perform a physical exam. Make sure to share information about your risk for heart disease and any other conditions you have that might affect your blood pressure.

Your health professional may also order an ECG or other laboratory tests. Additional tests can include: urinalysis, serum potassium, blood glucose or creatinine to measure or calculate kidney function.

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