The Link Between High Blood Pressure and Nosebleeds

By Andrew Yocum, MD
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
March 29, 2022

Most everyone experiences a nosebleed at least once in their life.

Most of the time, even if you don’t know the cause, you may not be very concerned. But people who have high blood pressure often wonder if a bloody nose is a sign of something serious.

It’s natural to speculate about a possible connection between high blood pressure (a.k.a. hypertension) and nosebleeds.

However, most of the time, the two are unrelated and there’s no need for concern. 

To help you understand when a nosebleed may be linked to hypertension, in this article, I’ll discuss high blood pressure, if it causes bloody noses, and when to see a doctor about recurring nosebleeds. 

What Is High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)? 

To understand hypertension, you first need to understand blood pressure.

This term refers to the pressure your blood puts on your artery walls as it flows through your body. Blood pressure depends on how much blood the heart pumps and how narrow the arteries are.

If your arteries are stiff or narrow, there will be more resistance to blood flow, leading to higher blood pressure. 

Blood pressure is measured with two numbers: 

  • Systolic blood pressure: The “top” number, this measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. 
  • Diastolic blood pressure: The “bottom” number, this is the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats. 

Blood pressure is read as the systolic number “over” the diastolic number.

A systolic blood pressure less than 120 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure less than 80 mm Hg is considered normal blood pressure. 

A single blood pressure reading showing raised blood pressure does not necessarily mean that you’re hypertensive. High blood pressure is a medical condition in which blood pressure is persistently higher than 130/80 mm Hg. 

High blood pressure increases the risk of heart diseases like coronary artery disease, stroke, heart attack, and heart failure.

Lifestyle changes and sometimes prescription blood pressure medication can help lower or manage high blood pressure. 

Symptoms 

High blood pressure rarely shows any noticeable symptoms, which is why it’s important to have a healthcare provider check your blood pressure on a regular basis.

Although some people report that high blood pressure makes them feel tired, many things can cause fatigue, so don’t jump to conclusions if you’re sleepier than normal.

Causes

Most people who have high blood pressure have primary hypertension. This condition develops gradually, and an underlying cause cannot be identified. 

Other people have secondary hypertension.

This condition happens more suddenly and occurs due to underlying health conditions, certain medications, or illegal drugs, including:

  • Kidney disease
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Adrenal disease
  • Thyroid problems
  • Birth control pills
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs)
  • Decongestants
  • Cocaine 
  • Amphetamines
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Can High Blood Pressure Cause Nosebleeds?

High blood pressure is not usually a direct cause of nosebleeds, but some research links the two. 

One study found that, compared to people with normal blood pressure, those who have hypertensive have a greater risk of nosebleeds that may require medical attention.

Another study suggested that hypertension is not usually the cause of a bloody nose, but it can make nosebleeds harder to control

Research only directly links nosebleeds to a hypertensive crisis.

A hypertensive crisis happens when systolic blood pressure rises to 180 mm Hg or higher and/or diastolic blood pressure rises to 120 mm Hg or higher. This can lead to a stroke, heart attack, or damage to the kidneys, brain, or eyes.

A hypertensive crisis is a medical emergency that requires urgent medical care. Call 911 or head to the emergency room if you think you’re having a hypertensive crisis.

Other symptoms of a hypertensive crisis include:

  • Severe chest pain
  • Severe headache
  • Confusion
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
  • Change in vision 
  • Back pain
  • Numbness/weakness
  • Difficulty speaking 

Nosebleeds are very common. Some of the most common causes of nosebleeds are nose picking and colds. 

Other causes of nosebleeds include: 

  • Heavy sneezing 
  • Inserting objects into the nose
  • Trauma/injury
  • Allergic and nonallergic rhinitis
  • Dry air
  • Certain medications like aspirin, warfarin, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Cocaine
  • Alcoholism
  • Deviated septum
  • Infections
  • Tumors
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When to See a Doctor 

Only 10% of nosebleeds need medical attention; most of the time, the bleeding stops on its own or with minimal home care. See a doctor for nosebleeds if: 

  • You had a severe injury to your face or head
  • There’s an object stuck in your nose 
  • The nosebleed doesn’t stop after applying direct pressure for 20 minutes 
  • You have trouble breathing
  • You’re vomiting and gagging 
  • You have frequent nosebleeds

How K Health Can Help 

Did you know you can get affordable primary care with the K Health app? Download K to check your symptoms, explore conditions and treatments, and if needed, text with a doctor in minutes. K Health’s AI-powered app is HIPAA compliant and based on 20 years of clinical data.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are nosebleeds a common symptom of high blood pressure?
Nosebleeds are not a common symptom of high blood pressure, although high blood pressure may make regular nosebleeds harder to control.
How can you tell if a nosebleed is due to high blood pressure?
The average nosebleed isn't caused by high blood pressure. However, a hypertensive crisis can cause a nosebleed. In a hypertensive crisis, blood pressure readings rise above 180/120 mm Hg. During a hypertensive crisis, some people experience chest pains, trouble breathing, and difficulty speaking.
What is the most common cause of nosebleeds?
Nose picking and colds are the most common causes of nosebleeds.

K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Andrew Yocum, MD

Dr Andrew Yocum is a board certified emergency physician. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from Kent State University with a Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology before attending Northeast Ohio Medical University where he would earn his Medical Doctorate (MD).

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