ZocdocAnswersWhat are the symptoms of hypertension?

Question

What are the symptoms of hypertension?

My husband refuses to get a checkup even though heart problems run in his family. I'm especially worried about his blood pressure. What are the symptoms of high blood pressure, if it's uncontrolled? I just want to make sure I can warn him if things get really dangerous.

Answer

The problem with chronic hypertension is that it causes very few symptoms until very late in the course of the disease when systemic complications such as kidney disease, heart attacks and stroke are unfortunately all too common. However, these complications normally occur only after years of poorly controlled blood pressure and therefore it is imperative to have your (or your husbands, as the case may be!) blood pressure checked regularly to ensure proper treatment and prevention of these dangerous complications. That being said, there are some acute symptoms that arise if blood pressure is very high. Blurred vision, headache, clouded thinking, decreased urination are a few of these symptoms, normally systolic pressures (the top number on a blood pressure reading) need to be above 200 mmHg before these symptoms occur. These symptoms indicate a medical emergency and should be treated at a hospital as soon as possible after they occur. I would stress to your husband (or please have him read this response) that getting his blood pressure checked and controlled if necessary is one of the most important things he can do for his health. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is known as the 'silent killer' because often it goes unrecognized (because of the lack of symptoms for chronically elevated blood pressure as previously mentioned) until a fatal event like a heart attack, a ruptured aneurysm or a stroke. Risk factors for hypertension include older age, family history, high salt diet, smoking, obesity and others. If your husband has any of these risk factors he should be having his blood pressure checked on a regular basis. If getting to a doctor is difficult, you can go to a neighborhood drug store and check the blood pressure on one of there automated machines: normal blood pressure is 120/80, hypertension is anything above 140/90 and should be followed up with a physician. I hope this helps!

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.