The longer hypertension goes untreated, the more dangerous it can become.
If you’re feeling as healthy as a horse, with no obvious signs of out-of-the-ordinary health issues, there’s no need to go the doctor … right? While that may seem like a perfectly logical rule to live by, when it comes to high blood pressure, skipping your routine checkup isn’t a wise choice—even if you feel no symptoms whatsoever.
“We call [high blood pressure] the silent killer,” says Michelle Weisfelner Bloom, MD, a cardiologist at Stony Brook University Medical Center. That’s because high blood pressure often doesn’t show any symptoms. In many cases, when there are high blood pressure symptoms, the hypertension is at an advanced stage and a lot of damage—sometimes even life-threatening—has already been done. (Here’s what your blood pressure number reading means.)
“The problem is that patients don’t always know that they have high blood pressure, and if you don’t know you have it, you haven’t had it treated,” says Dr. Bloom. “And then you’re at an increased risk of developing a problem.”
Untreated high blood pressure affects your entire body. It increases your risk of many health conditions, such as stroke, heart failure, vision loss, erectile dysfunction in men, decreased sex drive in women, and kidney disease.
Malignant hypertension, when the blood pressure is very, very high, is a life-threatening medical emergency. If you feel any of these symptoms, call your doctor or 911:
- Blurred vision
- Change in mental status, such as anxiety, confusion, or decreased alertness
- Chest pain (feeling of crushing or pressure)
- Nausea or vomiting
- Numbness or weakness of the arms, legs, face, or other areas
- Reduced urine output
- Shortness of breath
That’s why it’s critical to get your blood pressure checked routinely, and not wait for a potential high blood pressure symptom to alert you of a problem. If you’re over 40 years old or are at high risk for blood pressure, it’s recommended that you get your blood pressure checked once a year. If you’re between 18 and 40, get your blood pressure checked every three to five years, or per your doctor’s advice.
Dr. Bloom is an associate professor of medicine at Stony Brook University Medical Center, a fellow of the American College of Cardiology, and a fellow of the Heart Failure Society of America.Rachel Bond
Dr. Bond is a cardiologist and associate director of the Women's Heart Health Program at Northwell Health, Lenox Hill Hospital and an assistant professor of cardiology at Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine.
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High blood pressure can give you symptoms,
but unfortunately often it doesn't.
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And actually that's the reason we call
it the silent killer, because high blood
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pressure leads to a lot of bad stuff like
heart attacks, pain in the chest, stroke.
00:00:23,870 --> 00:00:27,140
The problem is that patients don't always
know that they have high blood pressure.
00:00:27,140 --> 00:00:29,840
And if you don't know you have it,
you haven't had it treated.
00:00:29,840 --> 00:00:32,380
And then you're at an increased
risk of developing a problem.
00:00:32,380 --> 00:00:35,290
When we see symptoms of
high blood pressure,
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it usually means that the blood
pressure is really, really high.
00:00:39,180 --> 00:00:43,770
And sometimes those symptoms can
include headaches, change in vision.
00:00:43,770 --> 00:00:47,250
Sometimes, people have chest pain or
shortness of breath, or
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sometimes just a general
feeling of unwellness.
00:00:50,480 --> 00:00:54,390
We know that if your blood pressure's
very high for long durations,
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that puts you at a much higher risk for
stroke, for example.
00:00:57,070 --> 00:01:00,960
So if you're noticing slurred speech or
weakness in your extremities, upper or
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lower extremities, that will warrant Issue
definitely to go to the emergency room and
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make sure your blood
pressure's under control.
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Untreated high blood pressure can affect
basically your whole entire body.
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The longer you wait to go see
a doctor to get a wellness visit,
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the more dangerous it becomes.
00:01:16,650 --> 00:01:21,168
So really the only way for you to truly
know if have elevated blood pressure is to
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go to your doctor and
get a wellness visit.
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Measuring High Blood Pressure. Atlanta, GA. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Accessed on January 31, 2021 at https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/measure.htm)Get Your Blood Pressure Checked. Bethesda, MD. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, HealthFinder.gov. (Accessed on January 31, 2021 at https://healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/doctor-visits/screening-tests/get-your-blood-pressure-checked) Malignant high blood pressure. Bethesda, MD. U.S National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus. (Accessed on January 31, 2021 at https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000491.htm)