High blood pressure symptoms

November 12, 2012

High blood pressure symptoms

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is probably the most frequently occurring cardiovascular disease. The term blood pressure refers to the force of blood as it pushes against the walls of the arteries it passes through; blood will fill the arteries to a certain, predetermined capacity. Too much pressure may cause damage to the arteries – as it does to an overinflated tire for example. High blood pressure not only damages healthy arteries it is also a known risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Unfortunately there are few noticeable high blood pressure symptoms.

Stroke and high blood pressure

High blood pressure which cannot be controlled increases the risk of stroke by as much as six times. This is due to hardening of the arteries caused by persistent high blood pressure; this hardening of the arteries may cause small blood vessels in the brain to become blocked or weakened which, in turn, may cause the blood vessel to burst causing a stroke to occur. High blood pressure has a direct correlation to the risk of stroke. Since high blood pressure symptoms are often absent it is necessary to have blood pressure levels regularly checked in order to reduce the risk of stroke.

There are two different types of stroke with differing causes -

  • Ischemic stroke – clots form in the blood vessels in the brain, or leading to the brain which blocks the flow of blood to the brain cells. Ischemic strokes may be the result of high levels of cholesterol and fatty deposits in the blood vessels of the brain and account for around 80% of all strokes.

  • Hemorrhagic strokes – this type of stroke is the result of a ruptured blood vessel within the brain, the leakage of blood seeps into brain tissue damaging the cells. This type of stroke is usually the result of high blood pressure or a weakness or thinness in the blood vessel walls, which may have been present since birth.

Symptoms of stroke

Despite the general lack of high blood pressure symptoms it remains one of the most common risk factors for stroke, it is therefore essential to recognise the symptoms of stroke in order that urgent medical treatment may be sought if necessary -

  • Sudden onset numbness – particularly on one side of the body

  • Sudden onset of vision disturbances in either or both eyes

  • Sudden onset paralysis

  • Sudden headache accompanied by dizziness, nausea and vomiting

  • Difficulty speaking and/or understanding even simple sentences

  • Difficulty swallowing

  • Loss of balance, poor coordination, dizziness

  • Loss of consciousness, even briefly

  • Sudden, unexplained confusion.

Mini stroke

Occasionally individuals make experience and advanced warning of impending stroke – this is referred to as a TIA, or transient ischemic attack. The symptoms presented during a TIA are almost identical to that of a stroke but will generally be only temporary. A TIA occurs when the blood flow to the brain is temporarily stopped and is usually a painless episode which nevertheless requires medical attention.

High blood pressure symptoms

Although high blood pressure symptoms may be difficult to detect there are some signs which may be indicative of the condition in patients with extremely high blood pressure – in which case immediate medical attention should be sought. All adults should have their blood pressure checked at least every five years.

  • Persistent headaches

  • Blurred or double vision

  • Persistent nosebleeds

  • Unexplained shortness of breath

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