Hypertension usually does not cause symptoms, and this is why it may go undiagnosed if unchecked. Unfortunately, even though there are no symptoms, high blood pressure can still be causing damage to smaller blood vessels and eventually major organs.

If you have a steep, fast rise in blood pressure, it is considered a medical emergency. A hypertensive emergency is defined as having a minimum systolic reading of 180 mm Hg or a minimum diastolic reading of 110 mm Hg. If you get this reading more than once with a short rest period in between, call for emergency medical services right away.

A hypertensive emergency may cause symptoms such as:

  • Headache
  • Nosebleed
  • Blurry or double vision
  • Abdominal pain
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness, which may lead to fainting