High blood pressure may cause headaches. But most people with high blood pressure never have any symptoms. If a person with high blood pressure does have symptoms, they are usually vague. These symptoms may include headaches, dizziness, or nosebleeds.

What Do the Experts Say?

Medical studies looked at whether high blood pressure causes symptoms. Many studies found no proof that it causes headaches. In some studies, people with high blood pressure reported headaches less often than people with normal blood pressure. A few studies support a link between high blood pressure and headache.

Many people have the misconception that high blood pressure will make them feel ill. In studies, people who know they have high blood pressure often report more symptoms than people who are unaware they have high blood pressure. This suggests that people labelled as having high blood pressure are more likely to feel symptoms. In fact, these studies have found that most symptoms are not caused by the high blood pressure itself.

When Do Symptoms Occur?

When people with high blood pressure do have symptoms, they are usually caused by another problem. These may include:

  • An underlying condition which is causing the high blood pressure (such as kidney or heart disease, obstructive sleep apnea, or thyroid disease)
  • A hypertensive crisis, which is a medical emergency (an episode of severe high blood pressure over 180/120 mm Hg and symptoms of organ damage)
  • Side effects from blood pressure medication
  • A condition not related to high blood pressure
  • A different outside cause such as other types of medicine, illegal drugs, or alcohol

The Bottom Line

Since most people have no symptoms, high blood pressure can go unnoticed and untreated. This is why high blood pressure is often called the “Silent Killer”. Most people don’t know they have it because there are no signs or symptoms.

Untreated high blood pressure can cause damage to organs such as the heart, brain, blood vessels, and kidneys. The damage may eventually cause serious diseases such as heart attack, heart failure, and stroke. This usually happens slowly over a long period of time. Symptoms of these serious diseases may begin to appear, but by then, the damage is done. Treating high blood pressure can prevent damage before it happens.

Don’t wait for symptoms to appear. Get your blood pressure tested at least once a year!