The Silent Killer: Signs Of High Blood Pressure

By the time you experience its deadly effects, it may be too late. Many people never realize they have hypertension until that first stroke or heart attack. For this reason, hypertension is called “the silent killer” because there may be no sign of high blood pressure until it reaches a life-threatening stage. Every time you visit your doctor, a nurse checks your blood pressure. There are even high blood pressure machines in many pharmacies. African Americans of both genders suffer from hypertension more than any other ethnic group, but often have no signs of high blood pressure.

How Will I Know if I Have Hypertension?

First, buy a home blood pressure kit. This simple, inexpensive and portable equipment, called a “sphygmomanometer” contains a blood pressure “cuff” and a measuring device for determining your diastolic and systolic blood pressure. Since normal adult blood pressure should be about 120/80, you should primarily be concerned with the “top” number, the systolic pressure. Using your portable kit, if your systolic pressure rises above 135 and hovers there for a week, see your physician immediately! It takes only five minutes of your time; make it a part of your morning routine.

Since there are few overt signs of high blood pressure, it wears “sneakers.” Gradually increasing, hypertension is rarely noticed until it has reached an extremely severe stage. Fortunately, other medical conditions serve as a sign of high blood pressure. If you begin to experience unusually frequent headaches, nosebleeds, vertigo (dizziness), and tinnitus (constant ringing of the ears), these could very well be signs of high blood pressure which your physician can determine by using a sphygmomanometer.

Other medical conditions may be a sign of high blood pressure. Fairly sure give-aways include a rare tumor called “pheochromocytoma” that originates in the adrenal gland. Thus tumor causes an over-production of very powerful hormones that create hypertension and other symptoms. If you experience sudden bouts of sweating, heart palpitations and headaches, this may be caused by a pheochromocytoma tumor and also a sign of high blood pressure.

If you have a severe headache from a stroke that’s due to the rupture of an artery in your brain, chances are virtually 100% that this is a sign of high blood pressure that remained hidden until the stroke has already occurred. This type of stroke that results from hypertension is called a “subarachnoid” or cerebral hemorrhage.

Another sign associated with high blood pressure is chest pain that occurs from a rupture of a “thoracic aortic aneurysm” or back pain from and “abdominal aortic aneurysm” are other complications associated with hypertension.

A pregnant woman must be carefully monitored by her obstetrician for signs of high blood pressure. A condition called “preeclampsia” is characterized by an increase in blood pressure and other symptoms. Preeclampsia endangers the life of the mother and the unborn child, causing convulsions, coma, and death of the mother and/or the child. If a physician suspects that this deadly condition exists in a pregnant woman, she should be taking medication for hypertension until the child is safely born.