Warning Signs Your High Blood Pressure Needs Attention

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Warning Signs Your High Blood Pressure Needs Attention

Did you know that your blood pressure can continuously increase for years yet not cause symptoms?

Like most chronic health conditions, you won’t have symptoms until your body reaches a crisis point. In the case of high blood pressure (hypertension), that crisis point is often a heart attack.

But even without symptoms, warning signs and risk factors alert you to seek medical attention.

As primary care providers, Jaime Dodge, MD, and the exceptional team at Aletheia Integrative focus on helping patients prevent high blood pressure and providing holistic treatment after the condition takes hold.

Call the office if you have questions or concerns about high blood pressure. Meanwhile, here are four ways to know when to seek treatment.

1. Monitor your blood pressure

You can prevent high blood pressure (hypertension) by detecting the problem when it’s slightly elevated (but not high enough to be diagnosed as hypertension) and taking steps to bring it down to the normal range.

Routine blood pressure screenings are the only way to catch that window of opportunity. You can’t prevent or cure your blood pressure once it gets too high. That’s why we take your blood pressure at yearly preventive exams.

Alternatively, you could also monitor your blood pressure at home. People who take their blood pressure at home should schedule an office visit if their blood pressure rises to 120-129 over 80.

You have full-blown hypertension when your blood pressure reaches 130-139 over 80-89.

What do the blood pressure numbers mean? The first number (systolic blood pressure) measures the pressure when your heart beats and sends blood into your arteries.

The second number (diastolic blood pressure) shows the arterial pressure when your heart rests (between the muscle contractions that force blood out of your heart).

2. Know your risk factors

Health conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, and obstructive sleep apnea may cause high blood pressure, but 90-95% of all cases develop over years of following an unhealthy lifestyle.

You have a greater probability of developing high blood pressure if you:

  • Consume too much salt
  • Don’t get regular exercise
  • Live with a lot of stress
  • Smoke cigarettes
  • Are overweight or obese
  • Don’t eat enough potassium-rich foods (vegetables, whole grains, beans, and fruits)

Consider these risk factors to be red flags for high blood pressure. The more risk factors you have, the more diligent you should be about getting regular blood pressure screenings. 

3. Be aware of cardiovascular symptoms

High blood pressure places excessive force on the artery walls. As a result, the walls stiffen, and damaged areas appear where cholesterol plaque accumulates and restricts blood flow through the artery.


These changes in your arteries make your heart work harder, leading to problems like congestive heart failure.


Sometimes, the first signs of high blood pressure are symptoms of heart disease and clogged arteries in your legs or heart, such as:


  • Chest pain (especially during exercise)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Wheezing
  • Swelling in your legs and feet
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Leg pain when walking that improves when resting
  • Leg fatigue or weakness
  • Poor hair growth or shiny skin on one leg
  • Nonhealing ulcers in your lower leg

Schedule an appointment for a comprehensive physical exam if you have any of these symptoms. 

4. Recognize a hypertensive emergency

You have a high blood pressure emergency when your blood pressure suddenly rises to 180 over 120 or higher. Without rapid treatment, this is a life-threatening condition that can lead to organ failure.

The signs of a hypertensive crisis include:

  • Severe headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Nosebleed
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Severe anxiety
  • Seizures

To learn how to prevent high blood pressure or schedule a screening, call Aletheia Integrative or book an appointment online.