What are the 5 Symptoms of High Blood Pressure?

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High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a serious medical condition that affects over 1.13 billion people globally. It puts you at risk for heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, vision loss, sexual dysfunction, and cognitive decline. Many people with high blood pressure don’t experience any symptoms, which is why it’s often called the “silent killer”. But some people do have symptoms that indicate their blood pressure is elevated. Here are the 5 most common symptoms of high blood pressure.

1. Headaches

Frequent headaches, especially ones that feel like a dull pressure or tightness around your head, can signify high blood pressure. How exactly hypertension causes headaches isn’t fully understood, but doctors believe the elevated pressure in blood vessels reduces proper blood flow to muscles and nerves in your head. This causes them to signal pain.

Headaches related to high blood pressure tend to occur in the morning and tend to be behind the eyes. Treating your hypertension should ease those headaches. If it doesn’t, consult your doctor as frequent headaches can sometimes indicate secondary hypertension caused by another underlying condition.

2. Facial Flushing

Facial flushing happens when blood vessels in your face dilate rapidly. This rush of blood causes reddening in your cheeks, nose, neck, or behind the ears. Facial flushing from high blood pressure generally comes in episodes rather than persisting for very long periods. It may occur along with headaches.

Doctors think episodes of flushing result from a rapid narrowing and widening of blood vessels. It’s often triggered by stress, anxiety, or consumption of alcohol or spicy foods. Medications used to treat high blood pressure can often minimize facial flushing.

3. Nosebleeds

Nosebleeds can result from the irritation that elevated blood pressure causes to the delicate blood vessels in nasal passages. Hypertension prevents proper blood flow, depriving tissues of oxygen and forcing vessels to become brittle. Then even minor trauma like nose blowing or bumping your nose can make them burst.

Nosebleeds are a relatively uncommon symptom of high blood pressure compared to headaches or shortness of breath. But if you suddenly start experiencing recurrent nosebleeds this could indicate you have underlying hypertension, especially if you don’t have a personal or family history of nasal problems.

4. Vision Changes

High blood pressure strains the blood vessels supplying blood to tissues in the eye. This continual pressure can cause damage resulting in vision loss or impairment. Some vision changes that may indicate hypertension include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Spots, specks, or double vision
  • Redness in one or both eyes
  • Vision loss or blank spots in your field of vision

Retina damage from high blood pressure is called hypertensive retinopathy. Left untreated, it can progress to bleeding in the eye, complete loss of peripheral vision, glaucoma, or even total blindness. So visual changes warrant an immediate trip to both the optometrist and doctor.

5. Shortness of Breath

Shortness of breath, especially with exertion like climbing stairs, can signify pulmonary hypertension resulting from high blood pressure. Pulmonary hypertension is elevated pressure in arteries supplying blood to the lungs rather than the rest of the body. It forces the right side of your heart to work harder.

Shortness of breath may start gradually but tends to become constant as pulmonary hypertension worsens. Some people also experience related symptoms like chest pain, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, or fainting spells. Shortness of breath always deserves prompt medical attention to identify the underlying cause.

If symptoms persist, natural supplements like blood pressure support from MamaFacts can help provide relief without medication side effects. But consult your doctor before taking any supplements, especially if on medication.

When to See a Doctor

If you haven’t had a recent physical but are experiencing any of the 5 symptoms described in this article, make an appointment to get your blood pressure checked soon. Try to check it before your appointment. Consistently high readings combined with symptoms likely means you have hypertension requiring treatment. This is especially critical if you have other risk factors for heart disease like smoking, obesity, diabetes, or high cholesterol.

Even slightly elevated blood pressure like 130-139/80-89 should be regularly monitored and lifestyle changes implemented to bring it down. The 2018 ACC/AHA guidelines define 130/80 mmHg rather than 140/90 mmHg as the cutoff for Stage 1 hypertension. So don’t ignore these early warning signs simply because your BP isn’t yet drastically high. Addressing it now is crucial for preserving future cardiovascular health. Waiting allows damage from sustained hypertension to quietly progress.


The 5 most prevalent symptoms signalling high blood pressure are headaches, facial flushing, nosebleeds, visual changes, and shortness of breath. But since hypertension is so asymptomatic, even a minor symptom combined with risk factors warrants a blood pressure check. Lowering elevated numbers, whether levels qualify as hypertensive or not, greatly reduces your risk of stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease, vision loss and cognitive decline. So being able to recognize common symptoms of hypertension means you can get treatment before irreversible damage occurs. Monitoring your blood pressure combined with maintaining healthy lifestyle habits provides the best protection against life-threatening complications.

Peggy Wright

Peggy Wright

PhD, MED, RD, CNS, Content Director Peggy is a registered dietitian and nutritionist with over 30 years of experience counseling clients, teaching nutrition science courses, and developing educational content. She holds a PhD in nutritional sciences.