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Symptoms

Because there are no symptoms, people can develop heart disease and kidney problems without knowing they have high blood pressure.

Malignant hypertension is a dangerous form of very high blood pressure. Symptoms include:

  • Severe headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Vision changes
  • Nosebleed

Exams and Tests

Your doctor will measure your blood pressure many times before diagnosing you with high blood pressure. It is normal for your blood pressure to be different based on the time of day.

  • All adults should have their blood pressure checked every 1 to 2 years if their blood pressure was less than 120/80 mmHg at their most recent reading.
  • If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or certain other conditions, have your blood pressure checked more often -- at least once every year.

Blood pressure readings taken at home may be a better measure of your current blood pressure than those taken at your doctor's office.

  • Make sure you get a good quality, well-fitting home blood pressure monitor. It should have the proper sized cuff and a digital readout.
  • Practice with your doctor or nurse to make sure you are taking your blood pressure correctly.
  • Bring your home monitor to your appointments so your doctor can make sure it is working correctly.

Your doctor will do a physical exam to look for signs of heart disease, damage to the eyes, and other changes in your body.

Tests may also be done to look for:

  • High cholesterol level
  • Heart disease, using tests such as an echocardiogram or electrocardiogram
  • Kidney disease, using tests such as a basic metabolic panel and urinalysis or ultrasound of the kidneys