High blood pressure (HBP) itself usually has no signs or symptoms. Rarely, headaches may occur.
You can have HBP for years without knowing it. During this time, the condition can damage your heart, blood vessels, kidneys, and other parts of your body.
Knowing your blood pressure numbers is important, even when you're feeling fine. If your blood pressure is normal, you can work with your health care team to keep it that way. If your blood pressure is too high, you can take steps to lower it. Lowering your blood pressure will help reduce your risk for related health problems.
Complications of High Blood Pressure
When blood pressure stays high over time, it can damage the body. HBP can cause:
- The heart to get larger or weaker, which may lead to heart failure. Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can't pump enough blood to meet the body's needs.
- Aneurysms (AN-u-risms) to form in blood vessels. An aneurysm is an abnormal bulge in the wall of an artery. Common spots for aneurysms are the main artery that carries blood from the heart to the body; the arteries in the brain, legs, and intestines; and the artery leading to the spleen.
- Blood vessels in the kidneys to narrow. This may cause kidney failure.
- Arteries throughout the body to narrow in some places, which limits blood flow (especially to the heart, brain, kidneys, and legs). This can cause a heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, or amputation of part of the leg.
- Blood vessels in the eyes to burst or bleed. This may lead to vision changes or blindness.
Myth-busting blood pressure - a hypertension Google+ hangout in honor of World Hypertension Day04/18/2013
Moderated by American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown, this "Google+ Hangout on Air" features a panel of experts from the American Heart Association as well as nutritionist Janet M. de Jesus from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The panelists discuss common myths and misconceptions about hypertension (high blood pressure) and what you can do to prevent or treat the "silent killer." The chat was streamed live on April 5, 2013 in honor of World Health Day on Sunday, April 7.
The NHLBI "Grand Opportunity" Exome Sequencing Project05/16/2012
This video—presented by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health—discusses the NHLBI's Exome Sequencing Project. Made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, this project provided six awards at five academic institutions to identify genetic connections to heart, lung, and blood diseases. Individual studies will address critical health issues, such as heart attack, stroke, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, overweight and obesity, and others.
Managing High Blood Pressure With Lifestyle Changes05/18/2011
This video—presented by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health—shows how Kendra, the mother of a teenaged daughter, has learned to manage her high blood pressure. Before being diagnosed with high blood pressure, Kendra suffered from chronic headaches and tiredness. At a health fair sponsored by her company, Kendra learned that her blood pressure was high, which prompted her to see her doctor.
After being diagnosed with high blood pressure, Kendra made a commitment to living a healthier lifestyle. By following a healthy diet and being physically active, she lost almost 60 pounds. With the support of her girlfriend and daughter, Kendra has maintained her weight loss and continues to make lifestyle changes that allow her to live an active, happy life.
For more information about managing high blood pressure with lifestyle changes, go to the Health Topics High Blood Pressure article.