A common misconception exists that you’ll know if your blood pressure (BP) is high. That’s not always the case, however. In fact, there’s a reason why hypertension is called the “silent killer,” and that’s because many people never manifest symptoms until their BP goes through the roof. High blood pressure or hypertension can put a strain on your heart, potentially lead to complications such as cardiac arrest, stroke, dementia, kidney or vision problems, among others.

That’s why it’s essential to keep up with your blood pressure numbers by having it checked every time you see your physician. Between visits, you can find free blood pressure readings at your local drug or grocery store. Knowing your BP situation can help you focus on staying healthy by following a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, avoiding saturated facts, sodium and added sugars.

In the event of a hypertensive crisis, however, you may experience some or all of the following signs and symptoms:


Hypertension headaches usually occur in the mornings, and might be accompanied by characteristics including:

  • Pressure felt behind the eye
  • Sensation of dizziness
  • Palpitations and/or irregular heartbeat

The headaches might be mild or severe, and are often just one of the signs of high blood pressure.


While nosebleeds aren’t reliable symptoms of hypertension, they do often accompany a hypertensive crisis. There are many causes of nosebleeds, including dryness of the nasal membranes, colds and flu, allergies, or the use of certain medications.

symptoms of hypertension, blood pressure, cardiac health

If you suddenly develop more frequent nosebleeds, or have nosebleeds combined with some of the other symptoms of high BP, it’s worth getting your physician to investigate.

Shortness of Breath

Breathing difficulties are a common red flag for a number of medical conditions, so it’s vital to view this symptom in the context of any other signs or symptoms of hypertension that you might have. In a hypertensive crisis, shortness of breath will likely be combined with fatigue, restlessness, headache, and frequent urges to urinate. If you have no other reason for shortness of breath such as asthma or COPD but you do have some of these other symptoms, it could be time to get urgent medical attention.

Shortness of breath can also be a symptom of pulmonary hypertension, which is a serious lung condition caused by high blood pressure in the arteries to your lungs.

Severe Anxiety

Feeling mildly anxious is one thing, but the anxiety that comes with a hypertensive crisis is something else altogether. It’s important to realize that while anxiety can cause hypertension, it can often occur simultaneously if you have high blood pressure. You may have anxiety that manifests in forms such as panic attacks, which can elevate your BP. If your anxiety is combined with other typical symptoms of hypertension, you should get checked out at the earliest opportunity.

Controlling your blood pressure by means of a healthy diet and exercise as well as checking it regularly enables you to know when and if it’s higher than it should be. If that happens, timely medical attention can help to avoid a hypertensive crisis and the potential complications that it can cause. Visit Lifestyle Medical Centers for personalized advice from our Registered Dietitians on how to manage your blood pressure.