Risks Of High Blood Pressure
If your blood pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on your blood vessels, heart and other organs, such as the brain, kidneys and eyes.
Persistent high blood pressure can increase your risk of a number of serious and potentially life-threatening health conditions, such as:
- have a relative with high blood pressure
- are of black African or black Caribbean descent
- live in a deprived area
Making healthy lifestyle changes can sometimes help reduce your chances of getting high blood pressure and help lower your blood pressure if it’s already high.
Blood Pressure Is Linked To Other Medical Issues
High blood pressure can be the first indication of a serious underlying condition. When a patient comes in with high blood pressure, doctors will check their urine and kidney function do an electrocardiogram to check the size of the heart and look for lung changes.
Stress on the blood vessels makes people with hypertension more prone to heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and aneurysms. Correspondingly, chronic conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, sleep apnea and high cholesterol increase the risk for developing high blood pressure.
In some women, pregnancy can contribute to high blood pressure, leading to preeclampsia. Postpartum blood pressure typically goes back to normal levels within six weeks. However, some women who have high blood pressure during more than one pregnancy may be more likely to develop high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases as they age.
Some of these medical issues can also cause spikes in high blood pressure .
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What Levels Equal A Hypertensive Crisis
While over time blood pressure can lead to a barrage of urgent medical conditions, when blood pressure enters into a hypertensive crisis state, it can lead to an urgent need for emergency care. For blood pressure to be considered a hypertensive crisis, it needs to quickly rise to a systolic level of 180 or more and a diastolic level of 120 or more.
There are two types of hypertensive crisis, and its essential to know how to approach each one:
- Hypertensive Urgency A hypertensive crisis is considered urgent when it spikes above the 180/120 numbers and stays that way through a second check five minutes later, but there are no other symptoms involved, such as:
- Aortic dissection
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Measuring Ambulatory Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can also be diagnosed through a special device called an ambulatory blood pressure monitor. A doctor, nurse or pharmacist will get you to wear the device for a full day. The device measures blood pressure every 20 to 30 minutes and gives the doctor an average of your blood pressures during the day and while you are sleeping. These devices are not available everywhere and can be uncomfortable to wear.
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The Main Two Types Of High Blood Pressure Crisis To Look Out For
Hypertensive crises are classified into two types. Both of this crisis requires immediate attention to evaluate the state of organ function. It would enable the doctor to determine an appropriate course of action.
In a situation where your blood pressure is 180/120 or greater, you may wait for about five minutes and try again. After the second reading and its still high, this would be considered a hypertensive urgency. Especially if you are not experiencing any other associated symptoms of target organ damage. Which are chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, change in vision, or speech difficulty. You may be required to adjust or add medications by your healthcare provider, but rarely requires hospitalization.
Hypertensive emergency is a situation where your blood pressure reading is 180/120 or greater. At the same time, you are experiencing any other associated symptoms of target organ damage. Which may include, chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, change in vision, or difficulty speaking. This circumstance does not need waiting to see if your pressure comes down on its own, Call for emergency attention.
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Can Urgent Cares Treat High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is an extraordinarily common medical condition that occurs when the force of blood against the artery walls is too high. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , high blood pressure affects nearly 50% of American adults, and only about 24% of diagnosed adults have their condition under control. These startling facts raise a good questionif youre among the tens of millions of Americans living with high blood pressure, where can you go for prompt medical treatment and expert advice?
Ideally, people with hypertension should visit a primary care physician on a routine basis, but these practices are often booked for several days in advance and arent a viable choice when you need timely, same-day expertise. Thats where urgent care centers come in! Reputable, physician-led urgent care centers like PhysicianOne Urgent Care can provide walk-in treatment for episodes of high blood pressure, as well as blood pressure readings, advice regarding hypertension medication, tips for at-home management, and more.
Are There Other Symptoms To Watch Out For Along With A High Blood Pressure Reading
Yes, you should watch out for things like chest pain, blurred vision, headache, nausea, pain in the jaw or arm, anxiety, shortness of breath, seizures, confusion or a general lack of responsiveness. Any of these, coupled with a high blood pressure reading, are cause for emergency response, says Dr. Meier.
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Hypertensive Crisis: When To Go To The Er For High Blood Pressure
If you are one of the 75 million Americans dealing with high blood pressure, you may have heard about a hypertensive crisis. Hypertension begins at a blood pressure reading of 140/90, and it becomes increasingly more severe after that. Because blood pressure spikes affect us all in different ways, its hard to know when should you go to the ER. One of Advance ERs experienced physicians, Dr. Joseph Meier, takes time to answer your hypertension questions so you know exactly when to go to get medical help.
Normal Blood Pressure Vs Hypertension
The American Heart Association recognizes five distinct blood pressure ranges.
- If your blood pressure reading is less than 120/80 mmHg, it is considered to be within the normal range.
- But if your blood pressure is beyond normal and less than 129/80 mmHg, you are within the elevated range and run the risk of developing high blood pressure if you dont take steps to control it.
- Hypertension has three defined stages. Stage 1 Hypertension is when blood pressure is within the ranges of 130/80 and 139/89 mmHg. A doctor will likely either prescribe blood pressure medication or insist on lifestyle changes based on your risk of developing heart disease or stroke.
- Stage 2 Hypertension is when blood pressure ranges around 140/90 mmHg or higher. Now, doctors are likely to prescribe both medication and lifestyle changes.
- Stage 3 Hypertension is dangerous, showing levels around or above 180/120 mmHg. You could be experiencing a hypertensive crisis, and this blood pressure requires medical attention.
If you measure abnormally high blood pressure, wait five minutes before testing the blood pressure again. Repeated readings will mean you must contact a doctor immediately.
However, if youre experiencing symptoms such as shortness of breath, numbness, weakness or fatigue, chest pain, vision changes, or difficulty speaking, do not wait. Call 911 immediately.
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Hypertensive Crisis: When You Should Call 911 For High Blood Pressure
A hypertensive crisis is when blood pressure rises quickly and severely with readings of 180/120 or greater.
The consequences of uncontrolled blood pressure in this range can be severe and include:
- Pulmonary edema
An elevated reading may or may not be accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms:
- Severe headache
Signs And Symptoms Of Brain Damage From Dangerously High Blood Pressure
If you have any of the following symptoms together with dangerously high blood pressure, you will need hospitalization to protect your brain from further damage:
- Significant new dizziness
- New onset confusion and disorientation
- Signs and symptoms suggesting a stroke
Signs and symptoms suggesting a stroke is a vast topic and I suggest you visit the American Stroke Association for details. I have included a link to the specific page in the reference material listed at the end of this webpage. In the meantime, continue reading about other organs that may be damaged form dangerously high blood pressure and what symptoms to look for when you are concerned about organ damage.
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Treatment Of High Blood Pressure
Treatment for HBP depends on its severity and associated risks of developing other diseases. Treatment options include:
- Make and keep appointments to see your doctor for routine check-ups and follow-up tests.
- ACE inhibitors will help blood vessels relax and open up, leading to a lower blood pressure.
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers will help blood vessels open up, leading to a lower blood pressure.
- Beta blockers will help reduce your blood pressure.
- Alpha blockers will help reduce the arteries resistance, relaxing the muscle tone of the vascular walls.
- Alpha-2 receptor agonists will help reduce blood pressure by decreasing the activity of the sympathetic portion of the involuntary nervous system.
- Calcium channel blockers will help relax and open up narrowed blood vessels, reduce heart rate and lower blood pressure.
- Combined alpha and beta blockers are used as an IV drip for those patients experiencing a hypertensive crisis.
- Central agonists will help decrease the blood vessels ability to tense up or contract.
- Diuretics water pills will help reduce the amount of fluid retention in your body.
- Peripheral adrenergic inhibitors will help reduce blood pressure by blocking neurotransmitters in the brain.
- Vasodilators will help the muscle in the walls of the blood vessels to relax, allowing the vessel to dilate.
What Is High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a medical condition that occurs when your internal blood pressure against your blood vessel walls is regularly too high and strong.
For a person to be considered having high blood pressure, their systolic pressure would need to register regularly above 130, and their diastolic pressure would need to be above 80.
When a person has consistently high blood pressure, it can have an extensive impact on their health heres how:
Outside of these serious side effects, uncontrolled or undetected blood pressure can also lead to a hypertensive crisis this can cause even more urgent problems.
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How Common Is High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a common condition, it is estimated that 18% of adult men and 13% of adult women have high blood pressure but are not getting treatment for it.
In 90-95% of cases, there is no single identifiable reason for a rise in blood pressure. But all available evidence shows that lifestyle plays a significant role in regulating your blood pressure.
Risk factors for high blood pressure include:
- being overweight
- excessive alcohol consumption.
Also, for reasons not fully understood, people of Afro-Caribbean and South Asian origin are more likely to develop high blood pressure than other ethnic groups.
What Is Postpartum Preeclampsia
Postpartum preeclampsia is a rare condition that can occur after a woman has given birth. A woman with postpartum preeclampsia will have high blood pressure and high levels of protein in her urine.
Most women who develop postpartum preeclampsia do so within 48 hours of childbirth. However, the condition can develop as long as six weeks after childbirth.
Postpartum preeclampsia is a very serious condition. It can lead to strokes, seizures and other complications if not promptly treated. The causes of postpartum preeclampsia are not known.
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Is High Blood Pressure An Emergency During Pregnancy
If you are expectant, a blood pressure reading above 140/90mm Hg is considered an emergency, and you should talk to a physician immediately. Below are some high blood pressure symptoms you should watch out for when pregnant:
Teen pregnancy or pregnant women over 40 years of age
Recreational drug use e.g. cocaine, stimulants
If high blood pressure occurs in pregnancy after 20 weeks³, it can lead to severe damage to the mothers organs, including the brain, and cause life-threatening seizures. The symptoms of these complications include protein in urine samples, vision changes, headache, swelling of feet and hands, and abdominal pain.
Other complications of high blood pressure during pregnancy include early placenta detachment and premature birth.
What Causes High Blood Pressure
For most people, the cause of high blood pressure is not known. However, it is clear that various conditions and behaviour make high blood pressure more likely. These are known as risk factors and include:
- leading a sedentary lifestyle
- high alcohol consumption
In a few people, there is an identifiable cause, such as narrowing of the arteries to the kidney or some hormonal conditions.
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Why You Should Go To The Er For High Blood Pressure
When your blood pressure readings are high enough to indicate a hypertensive crisis, the pressure that your blood is exacting can damage your blood vessels. In particular, high blood pressure can increase your chances for blood clots, cause your blood vessels to leak or burst, and critically reduce the amount of blood that is reaching your organs.
These complications can lead to severe complications, including but not limited to:
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What Can You Do If You Suspect You Are Experiencing A Hypertensive Crisis
Follow these steps if you suspect you or someone close to you is experiencing a hypertensive crisis:
Check your blood pressure.
If the blood pressure is not over 180/120mm Hg and you’re not showing any signs of severe high blood pressure, wait for five minutes and recheck your blood pressure. This time ensure you are fully relaxed and not hasty to avoid false elevated blood pressure readings.
If the blood pressure remains unchanged or higher than the first reading, you need to seek medical attention immediately. Call your doctor immediately for advice, as you prepare to go to the emergency room. If you cannot call your doctor, ask your family member or friend to contact them.
When your blood pressure is more than 180/120mm Hg, you are experiencing symptoms of hypertensive emergency such as upper back pain, severe headache, numbness or weakness, shortness of breath, difficulty in speaking, and loss of vision is an emergency. Immediately call your healthcare provider as you head to the emergency room for evaluation.
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Risk Factors For Hypertension
There are a number of factors that can put you at a greater risk for developing hypertension.
If you are aware of these risk factors and understand how they can affect you, you may be less likely to develop high blood pressure or know you can help control it.
- Family History: If you have a close blood relative with HBP, you are at a greater risk of developing it yourself.
- Age: The older you get, the more likely you are to be diagnosed with HBP.
- Gender: Males are more likely to develop HBP before the age of 65. Women tend to develop hypertension over the age of 65.
- Race: More than 4 in 10 African-Americans suffer from high blood pressure. Hypertension in these individuals usually occurs earlier in life and is much more severe.
- Diabetes: More than 3 in 4 people with Diabetes are also diagnosed with Hypertension.
- Lifestyle: The choices you make can decrease your risk of developing hypertension. These factors include diet, exercise, being overweight and the use of alcohol and tobacco. The good news is that, unlike the others, these risk factors can be changed.
Who To See For High Blood Pressure
Your primary healthcare provider can diagnose high blood pressure and help you with medication and advice to control it. If medication and lifestyle changes do not lower your blood pressure to an acceptable level, you may be referred to a cardiologist, who has extensive training in diagnosing and treating high blood pressure and associated damage to the cardiovascular system.
High blood pressure is an all-too-common condition in the United States, but a healthy lifestyle can go a long way toward lowering it and avoiding the damage it can do. Many people can forego blood pressure medication by staying active and eating heart-healthy foods. Know your blood pressure and work to keep it under control, with the help of lifestyle choices and your doctors recommendations.
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What Do Blood Pressure Numbers Mean
Your blood pressure consists of two numbers: systolic and diastolic. Someone with a systolic pressure of 117 and a diastolic pressure of 78 has a blood pressure of 117/78, or “117 over 78.”
Blood pressure that is too high increases your risk for heart attack and stroke. Your blood pressure should be less than 140/90 . If you have diabetes, it should be less than 130/80 . If you are 80 years and older, it should be less than 150/90 .
If the first number is:
OR the second number is:
Your blood pressure has:
90 or more
In general, the lower your blood pressure, the better. A blood pressure reading of less than 90/60 is normal as long as you feel okay.