High blood pressure describes what happens when the force of blood surging through your blood vessels is consistently too high. If left untreated, it can spur on the development of serious complications, such as a heart attack or stroke. Partly what makes high blood pressure so lethal is the absence of symptoms that can signpost the condition.
However, your body can undergo acute changes if your blood pressure veers into hypertensive crisis territory.
“A hypertensive crisis refers to a dramatic increase in the blood pressure of an individual,” explained Doctor Afzal Sohaib, Consultant Cardiologist at The Wellington Hospital, part of HCA Healthcare UK, to Express.co.uk.
Broadly speaking, there are two categories of a hypertensive crisis: urgent and emergency.
“An urgent hypertensive crisis refers to a situation where an individual’s blood pressure is markedly high but is not expected to have caused organ damage,” explained Doctor Sohaib.
READ MORE: High blood pressure warning: The six common signs you might be missing
“An emergency hypertensive crisis, on the other hand, refers to when a patient’s blood pressure is so high that organ damage has occurred, putting the individual at risk of life-threatening complications.”
According to Doctor Sohaib, there are many visible warning signs that indicate your body may be facing a hypertensive crisis.
Visual disturbancesConfusionHeadachesChest painShortness of breathSeizureFeeling flushed.There are numerous warning signs that indicate an emergency hypertensive crisis may have caused damage to your organs, noted Doctor Sohaib.
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“These include the same symptoms associated with high blood pressure, as well as nausea and vomiting, shortness of breath, unresponsiveness, seizures and intense feelings of anxiety,” he warned.
“Over time, one might notice swelling of the legs.”
According to Doctor Sohaib, if you are worried about your heart health and are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should speak to your doctor as soon as possible.
“If you are unsure about whether you may be at risk, please seek medical advice, and have your blood pressure checked by a professional,” he added.
Blood pressure testing is available:
At your GP surgery – by a GP, practice nurse, healthcare assistant or self-service machineAt some pharmaciesAt an NHS Health Check appointment offered to adults aged 40 to 74 in EnglandIn some workplacesAt a health event.You can also test your blood pressure at home using a home testing kit.
“Like 24-hour or ambulatory monitoring, this can give a better reflection of your blood pressure,” explains the NHS.
The health body adds: “It can also allow you to monitor your condition more easily in the long term.”