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Angela Price, M.D. Answers Questions On Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

Angela Price, M.D. Answers Questions On: Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

Are there symptoms of hypertension that we can recognize?

Unfortunately, hypertension is very much a silent killer. If you know that you have high blood pressure, you may learn to recognize symptoms that arise when your blood pressure goes up. But these symptoms are all very nonspecific – most people with high blood pressure don't necessarily feel sick, so they may not know they have it until a significant complication develops, such as a heart attack, stroke, heart failure or kidney failure.

This underscores the importance of establishing care with a primary care doctor and initiating treatment if one develops high blood pressure.

What if my blood pressure fluctuates a lot between home and doctor visits?

This is actually quite common.  Home monitoring is more accurate than clinic monitoring and is a better predictor of cardiovascular risk than clinic blood pressure assessment.  An even better assessment is a procedure called ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. This is a blood pressure monitoring device which we offer to our patients that provides an average blood pressure over a 24- to 72-hour period. It measures blood pressure every 20 minutes in the daytime and every 30 minutes at night and allows us to see blood pressure trends so we can correlate symptoms and behavior with blood pressure control. This provides useful information which we might otherwise miss with isolated office measurements.

Could I be doing something that I don’t realize is affecting my blood pressure?

High dietary sodium intake, sedentary lifestyle, and obesity are all associated with high blood pressure. There are also some commonly prescribed medications that could contribute to high blood pressure: oral contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy, and steroids may be required at times, but they can raise blood pressure; certain decongestants as well as stimulants such as Adderall or Ritalin; and NSAIDs, or nonsteriodal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen can all raise blood pressure.

For a person who doesn't have high blood pressure, these drugs may not cause a blood pressure issue. It's the patients who have hypertension who are more at risk, especially if they aren’t aware of their blood pressure problem.