High blood pressure doesn’t normally cause any noticeable symptoms. But when it does, it could mean that blood vessels around your body have been damaged. Many of these symptoms pop up in your lower body, including in your feet.
When your blood pressure goes too high, it can damage the small arteries in your legs and feet, explains the British charity Blood Pressure UK.
This causes poor circulation in your lower body, which can produce some unusual symptoms.
Health professionals describe this as peripheral artery disease (PAD). Although PAD isn’t necessarily life-threatening, the same process that causes PAD can bring on more severe conditions, including heart failure or a heart attack, the NHS explained.
One of the symptoms you may develop is cold feet. This could be coupled with cold hands, according to the Advanced Foot & Ankle Care Specialists, based in the US.
The health body added: “Red or blue toes, tingling in the feet, and unexpected hair loss on the legs may all point to circulation issues.”
How can high blood pressure cause PAD?
PAD may be a sign that arteries around your body are stiff. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, high blood pressure can damage your arteries by making them “less elastic”.
If that’s the case then having PAD may be a sign that you’re at high risk of having a heart attack or heart failure. Researchers have found stiff arteries increase the odds of both of these happening.
PAD may also be a sign of a dangerous process called atherosclerosis, which is linked to heart disease and heart attacks.
Atherosclerosis is when fatty substances, called plaques, become lodged in your artery walls. It also makes your arteries narrow and stiff, which reduces circulation.
Heart disease can occur if atherosclerosis restricts the blood flow in the arteries leading to your heart.
If one of the plaques breaks off and entirely blocks the blood flow to your heart, this causes a heart attack.
But symptoms in your feet as part of PAD are not the only sign that your blood pressure is dangerously high.
The British Heart Foundation explains that high blood pressure can also cause the following symptoms:
- Blurred vision
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
These symptoms can be a sign of something called a hypertensive crisis – where your blood pressure drastically in a short amount of time.
If you have these symptoms, you should seek medical attention straight away.
Chest pain and shortness of breath could also be a sign of severe heart problems, including a heart attack.
The Mayo Clinic further explains that “chest pain that may feel like pressure, tightness, pain, squeezing or aching” may be a sign of a heart attack.
It adds: “Some heart attacks strike suddenly. But many people have warning signs and symptoms hours, days or weeks in advance
“Chest pain or pressure (angina) that keeps happening and doesn’t go away with rest may be an early warning sign. Angina is caused by a temporary decrease in blood flow to the heart.”
If you have symptoms of a heart attack, you need to call 999 immediately.