World Hypertension Day 2024: Hidden Signs of High Blood Pressure You Must Be Aware Of


By Dr. Vijaysinh Patil

Every year on May 17, people worldwide mark World Hypertension Day to increase awareness of the condition as a public health concern. The day also aims to expand our understanding of hypertension by emphasizing research on the condition’s causes and risk factors. It also highlights how the medical condition can be properly controlled through lifestyle adjustments and other options.

What is Hypertension?

Hypertension, often known as high blood pressure, is a dangerous condition that occurs when our blood vessels are under too much pressure (140/90 mmHg or greater). It requires immediate treatment because, if left untreated, it can escalate to serious and fatal illnesses such as kidney disease, cardiac disease, heart attack, or stroke.

Hypertension is most common in the elderly, those who lead sedentary lifestyles, patients with type 2 diabetes or obesity, those who eat a high-salt diet, and those who drink heavily. Younger people can also develop hypertension as a result of stress or other circumstances.

World Hypertension Day 2024: Theme

This year, the World Hypertension League (WHL) has selected “Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, and Live Longer” as the World Hypertension Day theme. It has been chosen to promote enhanced awareness of high blood pressure and blood pressure measurement accuracy to control hypertension-related NCDs, particularly in poor and middle-income communities.

Here are seven hidden signs of hypertension that you must be aware of:

Headaches: Frequent headaches can be an early warning sign of hypertension. These headaches are typically throbbing on both sides of the head.


Problems with your vision: Prolonged high blood pressure damages blood vessels in the eyes, leading to blurred vision, double vision, or sudden vision loss. Hypertension can also cause hypertensive retinopathy, which can result in serious vision problems if untreated.


Nosebleeds: While not common, recurrent nosebleeds can signal high blood pressure. Elevated blood pressure can cause the small fragile blood vessels in the nose to rupture easily.


Shortness of breath: Hypertension can stress the heart, making it difficult to pump blood efficiently. This can lead to fluid build-up in the lungs, causing shortness of breath even with slight exertion.


Tiredness: Persistent tiredness can indicate high blood pressure. Hypertension affects the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively, reducing oxygen and nutrient supply to vital organs.


Irregular heartbeat: An irregular or rapid heartbeat, known as arrhythmia, can be a sign of hypertension. The heart’s increased effort to pump blood can lead to abnormal heart rhythms.


Rising creatinine or deterioration of renal function: High blood pressure can silently damage the kidneys.


Changing your lifestyle can help control and manage high blood pressure. I recommend making lifestyle changes including:

  • Eating a heart-healthy diet with less salt
  • Getting regular physical activity
  • Maintaining a healthy weight or losing weight
  • Limiting alcohol
  • Not smoking
  • Getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep daily

Sometimes lifestyle changes aren’t enough to treat high blood pressure. If they don’t help, your provider may recommend medicine to lower your blood pressure.

In case of any of the discussed symptoms, seek medical advice without delay. Early detection and management of hypertension can significantly reduce the risk of complications and improve overall health.

Patil is the Director of Cath Lab and Interventional Cardiology, The Nairobi West Hospital

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