16-06-2021 / Heart & Vascular

When to Seek Emergency Care for High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure or hypertension is called the silent killer in humans because it usually does not have any symptoms and can cause functional disability of the vital organs. This article discusses when to seek emergency care.

When to Seek Emergency Care for High Blood Pressure
Mazia AhmedMazia Ahmed

Mazia Ahmed

MSc Nutrition Science, Ph.D. Scholar

Table of Content

Introduction

As per research, one in every five young adults in India suffers from high blood pressure. If we calculate it, this shows that around 80 million people have high blood pressure in India. Hypertension is one of the major causes of premature death in the world. It is a significant risk factor that induces heart attack, stroke, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, chronic kidney disease, and cognitive decline. High blood pressure and severe discomfort can make you more prone to heart disease and strokes.

Factors that can exaggerate blood pressure readings

Reasons for high blood pressure

It is often natural to experience a short-term increase in blood pressure during your exercise or after having a cup of coffee. However, if your heart consistently pumps out more blood than the usual rate or your blood vessels become stiffer, your blood pressure will stay high, leading to hypertension. There are many causes for this to happen, including eating too much salt, being overweight, or even taking certain medications or drugs that will cause high blood pressure as one of its side effects. Hypertension is measured by millimeters of mercury, and its short form is mmHg. Two numbers are involved in its measurement:

  • Systolic blood pressure: The first number represents the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats.

  • Diastolic blood pressure: The second number represents the pressure in your blood vessels between beats in the time when your heart is resting.

Your blood pressure mainly depends on how much blood your heart is pumping at one time and how much resistance is present in the blood flow through your arteries. The narrower your arteries are, the higher is your blood flow pressure through them.

A person having blood pressure in the range of 120/80 mmHg is considered normal. Blood pressure which is more than 130/90 mm Hg, is generally considered high blood pressure. If the number is above normal but below 130/80 mm Hg, the person falls into elevated blood pressure. This means that he/she is more prone to developing high blood pressure.

High blood pressure is called the silent killer in humans because you usually don't have any symptoms, even if your blood pressure quietly causes damage to your body. It is asymptomatic, so high blood pressure will gradually harm the functional ability of your heart, blood vessels, kidneys, and other organs. High blood pressure in a person can spike so high that the threat is immediate, severe, and life-threatening.

What is a hypertensive crisis?

What does my blood pressure reading mean
  • A hypertensive crisis is a condition that mainly occurs when your blood pressure is so high that it can inflame your blood vessels and impair the cardiovascular system's ability to work as it should. It is also a risk factor for having a stroke or maybe having a heart attack, or getting other severe illnesses in your body.

  • Hypertensive crises are mainly divided into two types, i.e., urgent and emergency crises. In an urgent crisis, the blood pressure is over 180 systolic (i.e., the top number) and 120 diastolic, i.e., the lower number. No progressive target organ dysfunction occurs in this case.

  • In an emergency crisis, your pressure is over 180 mmHg in the top (systolic) or 120 mmHg (diastolic) in the case of the bottom. It is characterized by progressive target organ dysfunction. You can also have symptoms that can indicate your organs are becoming damaged. It can also lead to seizures.

  • The person may experience severe chest pain

  • You can get severe headache plus confusion and or even get blurred vision

  • You can get back pain

  • You may feel nausea and vomiting

  • You may feel severe anxiety

  • You may have shortness of breath

  • You may have vision problems

  • You can have nosebleeds

  • The person may experience seizures

  • You may have difficulty in speaking

  • You can feel numbness or weakness

  • You may be unresponsiveness

What Causes Extremely High Blood Pressure?

  • Some abnormalities that are going on in your body can lead to high blood pressure, or if a person is born with a particular genetic dysfunction, it is likely for him/her to develop hypertension. The chances of getting hypertension are higher in adults with obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, under or overactive thyroid, lupus, etc. 

  • Consuming a high-fat diet or fast food, carrying excessive weight by your body, consuming alcohol, smoking tobacco, and using some medications can also increase the risk of having high blood pressure.

  • Hypertension can occur due to several reasons. Not taking your medications at the right time can cause your blood pressure to get out of control. You can also have an interchange between medications you are taking into your body. Pregnant women may experience a condition called preeclampsia: a pregnancy complication causing the blood pressure to increase.

  • No matter the cause of increased blood pressure, it is essential to get help from someone as soon as possible. One should also seek medical help if the blood pressure gets above 170 (top) or 110 (bottom). Doctors must assess probable organ damage and overturn the process before it's too late for your health. 

How to Know I Have High Blood Pressure?

  • Hypertension is a medical condition with little or no physical symptoms, but it can quietly damage different organs of the patient. One of the best ways to monitor your heart's health is to measure your blood pressure regularly. You can also do it very easily, even at home. Many easy-to-use blood pressure monitoring devices are nowadays available in the market. 

  • Blood pressure readings are done in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). The top number is systolic, and that indicates the pressure in the arteries when the heartbeats. The lower number is diastolic, and this indicates the pressure as the heart rests between two consecutive beats. If a person measures his/her blood pressure correctly, these results are just as valid as a doctor's measurement.

High Blood Pressure Awareness

When to Seek Emergency Care?

In certain situations hypertension is treated as an emergency and the patient needs immediate medical attention. In such a situation, it is essential to get help from someone as soon as possible.  This can occur if your blood pressure rises quickly and severely. One should seek medical help if the blood pressure gets above 170 (top) or 110 (bottom) or higher. Doctors must assess probable organ damage and overturn the process before it's too late for your health. 

The following symptoms may indicate organ damage:

  • Shortness of breath.

  • Chest pain.

  • Change in vision.

  • Numbness or weakness.

  • Severe headache.

  • Difficulty speaking.

5 effective ways to lower your blood pressure levels

1. By increasing your exercise

You should increase your activity and do more exercise. In a study, the older adults of the society who have participated in aerobic exercise training lowered their blood pressure. These results are as good as some hypertensive medication as well as drugs would do. If you exercise regularly, it will increase your heart and breathing rates, and by this, your heart gets stronger and pumps blood with less effort. This puts less pressure on your arteries as well as lowers your blood pressure.

2. By losing weight

You have to lose weight if you're overweight. Losing even 3-5 kg can reduce your blood pressure. Plus, it will also lower your risk for other medical problems. A review of several studies has reported that weight-loss diets reduced blood pressure by an average number of 3.2 mm Hg in diastolic and 4.5 mm Hg in systolic.

3. Reduce the consumption of refined carbohydrates and sugar

Many scientific studies showed that restricting sugar and refined carbohydrates intake to your body not only helps in losing weight but also lowers blood pressure. A study also compared a low-carbohydrate diet to a low-fat diet. The low-fat diet generally included a diet drug. Both diets produced weight loss in the body, but the low-carbohydrate diet significantly lowered the body's blood pressure.

4. Eat more potassium and less sodium.

  • By increasing your potassium intake and cutting back on salt, you can also lower your blood pressure.

  • Potassium has a double benefit to your body. It decreases the effects of salt in your body, and it also lowers the tension of the blood vessels. But, diets rich in potassium can be harmful to individuals suffering from kidney disease, so you should consult your doctor before increasing your potassium intake.

5. Try meditation or yoga.

You can do mindfulness and meditation, including transcendental meditation. It has long been used and studied as a method to reduce stress. A study says that one university program in Massachusetts has taken more than 19,000 people to participate in a meditation and mindfulness program to reduce stress. It showed an immediate lessening of hypertension in the body.

Word of Wisdom

  • Keeping your body blood pressure in the normal range is very important in preventing complications, such as heart diseases and strokes. A combination of medicines and healthy habits can help you lower your blood pressure. If you're overweight, it is important to keep your weight down.

  • You should never forget that a single blood pressure reading cannot classify your health. An average of its readings taken over time from your body is the most accurate one. It is recommended to have your blood pressure checked by a doctor at least once a year. 


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