High blood pressure: Two signs in your eyes of the 'silent killer' – 'hypertensive crisis'

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Around a third of adults in the UK have high blood pressure, although many will not realise it. This is partially because symptoms may not be easily detected, or may not show at all until your blood pressure is very high. To check if your blood pressure is high you can have your blood pressure checked. If you’re diagnosed with high blood pressure, your doctor may recommend taking medication to keep it under control.

The NHS says that if your blood pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on your blood vessels and eyes.

The American Heart Association says that blood spots in the eyes are more common in people with high blood pressure, but not caused by it.

The organisation states: “Blood spots in the eyes (subconjunctival haemorrhage) are more common in people with diabetes or high blood pressure, but neither condition causes the blood spots.”

It notes that floaters in the eyes are also not related to high blood pressure.

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Indeed, it says high blood pressure is largely a symptomless “silent killer”.

It warns: “If you ignore your blood pressure because you think a certain symptom or sign will alert you to the problem, you are taking a dangerous chance with your life.”

Nonetheless, there may be some signs. The Mayo Clinic says high blood pressure “can damage the tiny, delicate blood vessels that supply blood to your eyes”.

This can cause damage to your retina which “can lead to bleeding in the eye, blurred vision and complete loss of vision”.

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The organisation adds that fluid build-up under the retina can result in distorted vision or sometimes scarring that impairs vision.

It also says that blocked blood flow can damage the optic nerve, can lead to bleeding within your eye or vision loss.

The NHS says that all adults over 40 are advised to have their blood pressure checked at least every five years.

Blood pressure is defined as the force put on your blood vessels and organs as blood is pumped around your body by your heart.

Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers. The systolic pressure is the higher number and is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body. The diastolic pressure is the lower number and is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels.

“Blood pressure readings between 120/80mmHg and 140/90mmHg could mean you’re at risk of developing high blood pressure if you do not take steps to keep your blood pressure under control,” says the NHS.

As many as five million adults in the UK have undiagnosed high blood pressure, so will not know that they are at risk, according to the British Heart Foundation.

The American Heart Association says: “The best evidence indicates that high blood pressure does not cause headaches or nosebleeds, except in the case of hypertensive crisis, a medical emergency when blood pressure is 180/120mmHg or higher.”

The British Heart Foundation states many people with high blood pressure feel fine, “so it’s important to get your blood pressure checked regularly”. The charity says physical activity can help reduce your risk of heart and circulatory disease and reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.

The NHS says: “Making healthy lifestyle changes can sometimes help reduce your chances of getting high blood pressure and help lower your blood pressure if it’s already high.”

It says you should reduce the amount of salt you eat and have a generally healthy diet, cut back on alcohol, lose weight if you’re overweight, cut down on caffeine, and if you are a smoker you should stop smoking.

There will not always be an explanation for high blood pressure, though most people develop high blood pressure because of their diet.