In the previous post, we discussed the causes of high blood pressure, which gave us an insight into how you get high blood pressure.  Most of the time, the affected person does not have any symptoms of high blood pressure though he may be living with it for a long time.

It may be noticed accidentally when his blood pressure is measured by the physician or it may be noticed when some symptoms of life-threatening complications develop. Blood Pressure above 140/90 mm Hg is to be considered as high.

The Silent Killer is what high blood pressure is called because it goes on developing in the body causing damage to the organs in the body without you knowing it. This damage can progress to the extent of being lethal. This is the reason why stress is laid on regular check-ups of blood pressure.

Symptoms of high blood pressure in men and women

Often, symptoms appear after someone has had high blood pressure for years and the condition has become severe. However, sometimes even people with severe high blood pressure might not experience any symptoms.

Symptoms that may present include:

  • HeadacheHigh blood pressure may manifest itself as just a headache, and the patient takes pain relievers for a few days. It is only when the headache persists, that he visits his doctor. High blood pressure readings above normal of 140/90 mm of Hg will tell you that your blood pressure is high.
  • Nausea. Nausea accompanying the headache is a symptom of high blood pressure.
  • Dizziness
  • Blurring of vision
  • Nosebleeds
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Lack of sexual desire in women
  • Erectile dysfunction (ED)Erectile dysfunction may develop in men. A strong correlation between ED and high blood pressure exists.

As mentioned above, many a time, the realization of hypertension comes when the complications of hypertension arise and the symptoms of these complications manifest themselves.

Symptoms and signs of high blood pressure in pregnancy

High Blood Pressure developed during pregnancy is called gestational hypertension. Women who have or develop high blood pressure during pregnancy develop a condition called Preeclampsia which is also referred to as toxemia of pregnancy. Preeclampsia starts to develop after the 5th month of pregnancy and the following high blood pressure signs and symptoms are seen.

  • Mild to severe hypertension
  • Urine examination shows protein.
  • Preeclampsia affects the liver, kidney, and brain of the mother, and symptoms of involvement of these organs will be seen.
  • The pregnant woman may develop seizures and this condition is called eclampsia, which incidentally is the second most common cause of maternal death.

Complications of high blood pressure

Uncontrolled high blood pressure (hypertension) can silently damage the body for years before symptoms or complications develop. Complications can cause disability or even a deadly heart attack or stroke.

Heart failure

As a result of the heart continuously working against high pressure, it may fail and the associated symptoms may present such as

  • Persistent dry cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling of legs
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling of the abdomen

Heart attack

High blood pressure is the most common cause of heart attack and may present with the following symptoms.

  • Shooting pain on the left side of the chest or behind the breastbone, which may radiate to the left hand, neck or jaw, or the back
  • Dizziness associated with pain in the chest
  • Sense of constriction at the throat
  • Difficulty in Breathing

Hemorrhage or clot formation in the brain

The small arteries in the brain may rupture due to the high pressure of the blood flowing through them or a clot may form causing a loss of blood supply and oxygen to the affected part of the brain. This is called a stroke and depending on the controlling functions of the affected part of the brain, symptoms appear.

  • Weakness or numbness or loss of function or paralysis of either the left or right side of the body affecting the hands and legs
  • Weakness of one side of the face causing the mouth to droop
  • Reduced vision
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Speech may be affected
  • Lack of muscle coordination and balance
  • Severe headache
  • Confusion


Atherosclerosis is a condition wherein the lumen of the blood vessels is narrowed due to deposits of plaques on its walls. This reduces the blood supply to the part being supplied blood and thus symptoms arise depending on which part is affected.

Disturbed blood supply to:

  • The heart can cause a heart attack,
  • The kidney can cause the kidneys to fail
  • The brain can cause a stroke
  • The legs can cause pain in the legs

Kidney failure

Hypertension is the leading cause of kidney failure. It presents in the following ways:

  • Tiredness and weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Breathlessness
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Swelling of feet
  • Reduced urination

Damage to the eye

Prolonged uncontrolled hypertension causes reduced or loss of vision in the damaged eye.

Damage to the blood vessels in the sensitive tissue of the retina can lead to bleeding in the eye, blurred vision, and even complete loss of vision. Having co-existing diabetes significantly increases the risk of retinopathy.

Aneurysm of the main artery

Aneurysm of the artery can either develop in the chest or the abdomen or the brain. It is a localized swelling of the artery resulting in a balloon-like appearance. The walls of the artery are weakened and may rupture causing serious complications or even death.


  • 25% of the adult American population has high blood pressure.
  • In the last 25 years, more women than men have died of cardiovascular disease.
  • The cause of death in women due to heart failure in 60% of the cases is high blood pressure.
  • Coronary heart disease is the number one cause of death in American women, claiming half a million lives every year.
  • African American women tend to develop high blood pressure at an earlier age than whites.
  • The southeastern states in the United States show a high incidence of stroke and high blood pressure among blacks and whites than in other states.

Action Step: If you identify any of the symptoms of high blood pressure or its complications described above in you, do see your physician right away and explain your symptoms so that he can do the needful. Complications of high blood pressure are too serious to ignore.