Sign in the nose of silent killer that causes 75k UK deaths a year

Around one third of all adults in the UK are thought to be living with high blood pressure. Also known as hypertension, it is a medical condition that means that the heart has to work harder to pump blood around the body.

Over time this puts extra strain on the heart as well as other organs and the blood vessels and can cause damage.

It is also a factor in many serious health conditions and illnesses, including cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, strokes, heart failure and heart attacks.

Although it is a fairly common condition, it can often go by unnoticed and undiagnosed until it causes a serious medical emergency.

Blood Pressure UK states that around one in two people with hypertension don’t realise they have it or aren’t receiving treatment.

It also rarely displays symptoms – earning it the title of a “silent killer”.

Public Health England says: “Often described as a ‘silent killer’ because it rarely causes symptoms, high blood pressure was responsible for around 75,000 deaths in 2015, according to the Global Burden of Disease report.”

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) says: “High blood pressure rarely has noticeable symptoms.

“Many people with high blood pressure feel fine. But even if you feel fine, you should still have your blood pressure checked regularly.”

However, there are some warning signs that affect some people.

According to the BHF, one such sign can appear in the nose – nosebleeds.

The NHS also says that nosebleeds are more likely to occur in people with high blood pressure.

However, there is some debate around whether nosebleeds are directly caused by having high blood pressure.

Medical Associates of North Texas say this is “debatable”.

They said: “While most experts believe that hypertension alone doesn’t cause nosebleeds unless your blood pressure is extremely high, it can damage the blood vessels inside your nose, making bleeding more likely.

“Some recent research has found that hypertension may increase your risk of more severe nosebleeds.”

One study, from 2020, found that people with high blood pressure were 2.7 times more likely to need emergency care for nosebleeds than people with healthy blood pressure.

And a separate study, from 2015, measured the blood pressure of 80 people over three months and found that half the participants experienced regular nosebleeds.

Researchers concluded that high blood pressure did not cause nosebleeds, but the bleeding was more difficult to control in people with hypertension.

The BHF lists other signs of high blood pressure as:

  • Blurred vision
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches.

However, the only way to be sure if you have high blood pressure is to be tested, either by your GP or using an at-home kit.

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