High blood pressure: Why you shouldn’t ignore a painful headache – when to call 999
High blood pressure is a common condition that affects more than 25 per cent of all adults in the UK.
The condition, which is also known as hypertension, puts extra stress on blood vessels and vital organs.
It can be difficult to tell if you’re at risk of hypertension, as the symptoms only show if you have extremely high blood pressure.
But you should seek medical attention straight away if you suddenly develop severe headaches.
Severe headaches could be a warning sign of extremely high blood pressure, or malignant hypertension.
Malignant hypertension is a medical emergency and should be treated in hospital straight away, warned medical website WebMD.
It’s caused by blood pressure that reaches more than 180/120, and it can be life-threatening.
While it’s a relatively rare condition, you should check your blood pressure if you suddenly develop a searing headache.
“In the vast majority of cases, there are no clear symptoms of high blood pressure,” said the medical website.
“Call your doctor about high blood pressure if you are experiencing severe headaches, nausea, blurred vision, and confusion or memory loss; this may be a sign of malignant hypertension.
“Malignant hypertension is extremely high blood pressure that develops rapidly and causes some type of organ damage.
“About one per cent of people who have a history of high blood pressure develop this life-threatening condition.
“Malignant hypertension is a medical emergency and needs to be treated in a hospital, often in an intensive care unit.”
You could also be at risk of malignant hypertension if your headache is accompanied by blurred vision, shortness of breath, and dizziness.
The condition can lead to brain swelling, which could subsequently lead to blindness, seizures, or even a coma.
Many people could have high blood pressure and not even know it, warned the NHS.
The best way to know if you’re at risk is to have your blood pressure checked regularly.
Speak to a doctor or pharmacist to check your blood pressure.
All adults over 40 years old should check their blood pressure at least every five years.
It’s crucial that the condition is diagnosed early, as it can lead to some deadly complications, including heart disease and strokes.