Understanding high blood pressure

Most often, people with high blood pressure have no symptoms. This is why high blood pressure is often called a "silent killer." Complications related to untreated hypertension can have serious effects such as stroke and heart attack, and could possibly lead to death.

Headaches, dizziness, and nosebleeds can sometimes be reported if the blood pressure is very high, but are very rare symptoms.

When measuring blood pressure, it is recommended that at least 2 readings separated by a few minutes be taken. If a raised blood pressure reading is discovered at a check-up, your doctor will usually ask for you to come back for a follow-up in a month to confirm whether you should take medication to treat it. It is very important to keep these follow-up appointments.

If you have a systolic pressure equal to or above 140 mm Hg or a diastolic pressure equal to or above 90 mm Hg as measured by a doctor (or higher than 135/85 when measured at home) on a number of consecutive readings, you have high blood pressure. Normal blood pressure is between 120 mm Hg and 129 mm Hg for systolic blood pressure and between 80 mm Hg and 84 mm Hg for diastolic blood pressure. If you have diabetes, high blood pressure is anything at or above 130/80 mm Hg.

Written and reviewed by the MediResource Clinical Team