High blood pressure often causes no symptoms for a long time. Even if your blood pressure is high, you may feel fine. For this reason, many people who have high blood pressure don't know it.

Some people may not know they have high blood pressure until they have a heart attack, a stroke, kidney damage, or other serious health problem. That's why you should have your blood pressure checked regularly. If you have never been diagnosed with hypertension and you have no other serious medical problems, the American Heart Association recommends that you have your blood pressure checked at least once every 2 years.

Are there symptoms that require emergency care?

In less than 1% of people who have high blood pressure, blood pressure rises quickly and becomes seriously high. It causes the diastolic blood pressure - the bottom number - to rise to 130 or higher. This medical emergency is called malignant, or accelerated, high blood pressure. It must be treated immediately. Symptoms of malignant high blood pressure include the following:

  • blurred vision
  • chest pain
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • palpitations
  • shortness of breath

If you have high blood pressure and you experience these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.