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High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is famously branded the “silent killer” because it is usually symptomless. If the force of blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels increases severely, you may experience marked changes, however. This is called a hypertensive crisis.
According to Mayo Clinic, a hypertensive crisis causes the blood vessels to become inflamed and may leak fluid or blood.
A study published in the journal Nature ranked different hypertensive crisis symptoms according to their prevalence.
The study sought to characterise the profile of hypertensive crisis over the course of one year in a university reference hospital and perform a review of the literature.
The study monitored 362 patients who presented for treatment at the emergency hospital with hypertensive crisis.
One of the most common symptoms found in the study group was paresthesia.
Paresthesia refers to a burning or prickling sensation that is usually felt in the hands, arms, legs, or feet, but can also occur in other parts of the body.
The sensation, which happens without warning, is usually painless and described as tingling or numbness, skin crawling, or itching.
Other symptoms included:
- Chest pain
- Neurological deficit
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How to respond
“If you experience a severe increase in your blood pressure, seek immediate medical attention,” advises Mayo Clinic.
According to the health body, treatment for hypertensive crisis may include hospitalisation for treatment with oral or intravenous medications.
The only way to determine your blood pressure reading is to get a blood pressure test.
UK public health advice recommends that all adults over 40 have their blood pressure checked at least every five years.
You can get your blood pressure tested at a number of places, including:
- At your GP surgery
- At some pharmacies
- As part of your NHS Health Check
- In some workplaces.
- You can also check your blood pressure yourself with a home blood pressure monitor.
Long-term changes to keep your blood pressure under control
In addition to short-term treatments, modifying your lifestyle can keep high blood pressure at bay.
One of the most important protective measures is to eat a healthy, balanced diet.
According to the NHS, you should cut down on the amount of salt in your food and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.
Salt raises your blood pressure – the more salt you eat, the higher your blood pressure.
“Aim to eat less than six grams (0.2oz) of salt a day, which is about a teaspoonful,” advises the NHS.
It adds: “Eating a low-fat diet that includes lots of fibre, such as wholegrain rice, bread and pasta, and plenty of fruit and vegetables also helps lower blood pressure.”
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