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8 High Blood Pressure Symptoms You Should NEVER Ignore!

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a condition where the blood pressure is continuously above the normal level, usually above 120 mm Hg. It is responsible for 7.6 million deaths per annum worldwide and is a significant contributor to stroke and coronary heart disease, two leading causes of death.

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Unlike most other conditions, high blood pressure is not easily detectable as it shows no symptoms until you’re at its critical stage, which is why it’s commonly termed the “silent killer.” It will require regular checkups and appointments with a doctor to diagnose the condition. And it’s crucial to detect it early, as high blood pressure can spiral into worse health complications, including heart attack and stroke.

However, there are specific symptoms you can be on the lookout for to know if you have above-normal blood pressure levels. Here are 8 of the signs of high blood pressure that should not be overlooked.

1. Loss of Vision

One of the dangers of high blood pressure is vision loss, which can be blurred or complete loss of sight. Several reasons are responsible for this symptom, including hypertensive retinopathy. People experience hypertensive retinopathy when they leave their high blood condition unchecked, causing damages to the retina, which leads to eye bleeding, blurred vision, and complete blindness.

Another cause is choroidopathy. This condition is a result of fluid buildup under the retina, leading to distorted vision, and in some cases, impaired vision. Contact your doctor immediately if you’re experiencing this symptom, even if it’s in one eye.

2. Memory Loss

People with high blood pressure are also at risk of losing their memory. According to studies carried out on the effect of high blood pressure on the brain, researchers discovered that people with this condition receive less blood flow to the parts of their brain responsible for memory. For your brain to function correctly, it requires a constant blood supply, rich in oxygen and nutrients. Continuous disruption to this flow can cause drops in cognitive function, leading to fuzzy memory and confusion.

If left untreated, it can lead to dementia and a full-blown stroke. It’s recommended you closely monitor your blood pressure, and if it rises above normal, schedule an appointment with your doctor.

3. Swollen Feet, Legs, and Abdomen

Edema is one of the symptoms of high blood pressure in its worst form and can ultimately lead to heart failure if not treated from the onset. This type of edema is characterized by abnormal swellings in the ankles, legs, or lungs. It is caused by pulmonary hypertension, a high blood pressure condition that affects the lungs.

The condition narrows and blocks the pulmonary arteries, restricting blood movement from the right heart ventricle to the lungs and forcing the heart to increase pressure to overcome the restriction. This buildup in pressure causes air in the lungs to be replaced with fluid and swellings in the ankles or legs. In some cases, the condition can cause the right heart ventricle to overwork itself to heart failure, leading to death.

4. Pains in the chest

Angina, a form of chest pain, is the beginning of an impending heart attack. This pain in the chest comes to be when the heart is made to work harder than usual. That occurs when high blood pressure causes the accumulation of plaque in the coronary arteries, depriving the heart of much-needed oxygen and nutrient. Without proper treatment, it will eventually wholly damage the coronary arteries and lead to a heart attack.

Besides chest pains, you may also experience shortness of breath, numbness, back pains, or nausea.

5. Frequent Urination

Also known as nocturia, this condition occurs when people wake up 2-6 times during the night to urinate. According to multiple research, the symptom may be linked to high blood pressure. While there are several reasons why people may be experiencing nocturia, studies showed waking up in the night to use the toilet was associated with a 40 percent greater chance of having high blood pressure.

High blood pressure inhibits renal blood flow and causes an increase in renal arterial resistance, leading to a drop in urination during the day. This accumulated urine is then released during the night due to a reduction in renal arterial resistance and increased renal blood flow. Other causes of nocturia may include high salt intake and excess fluid in the body. Hematuria, blood in the urine, is another condition you should note if you have high blood pressure.

6. Headache

While there is very little evidence that links headaches to it, high blood pressure can trigger an event, which eventually causes headaches. This event is known as hypertensive crisis, which occurs when the pressure in the cranium increases due to a sudden rise in blood pressure levels – up to 180/120 mm Hg or higher.

The headaches are usually accompanied by chest pain, nausea, and blurred vision, and they can’t be treated with regular pain relievers. It’s recommended you call 911 or contact your doctor if you’re experiencing a hypertensive crisis.

7. Abdominal Pain

High blood pressure can increase the pressure levels on the aorta walls (the largest blood vessel in the body, which runs from the heart through the chest and abdomen), thereby weakening it and causing the formation of an aneurysm. An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a condition in which the part of the aorta in the abdomen swells or enlarges. As the aneurysm enlarges, you start experiencing severe pains in your stomach, including pain in your lower back, a pulse near your naval area, and shock or loss of consciousness. While it’s not problematic in some cases, an abdominal aortic aneurysm can be life-threatening if it ruptures.

An abdominal aortic aneurysm needs to be detected early to monitor how it develops and prevent complications closely.

8. Fatigue

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Feeling tired is another symptom of high blood pressure, which can either be direct or in conjunction with an underlying condition. When your blood pressure is above the usual level, it can lead to irregular heart rhythm, shortness of breath, and general weakness, contributing to fatigue.

High blood pressure can also cause damages to the heart or kidney, leading to conditions such as coronary artery disease and kidney damage that can cause general exhaustion. Regular blood pressure checks with your doctor can help diagnose and start treatment early for high blood pressure.