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When is high blood pressure an emergency?

When is high blood pressure an emergency?

A: High blood pressure is an emergency when it begins to cause organ damage. Symptoms include headache, chest pain, shortness of breath, swelling and seizure. Some of these symptoms mimic a heart attack. In fact high blood pressure can cause a heart attack among other injuries.

A spike in blood pressure can cause stroke, aneurysm, coma and eclampsia in pregnant women. Emergency hypertension is relatively rare and often is caused by untreated chronic hypertension. Your doctor will treat your blood pressure spike with drugs to lower the pressure.

However, doctors must be careful not to lower the pressure too quickly. In high blood pressure emergency cases, pressure should not be reduced by more than 25 percent within 2 hours. After a 25 percent reduction, the goal is to move the pressure toward 16/100 within at least 6 hours.

If your blood pressure is reduced too quickly, your heart, brain or kidneys can be damaged by a lack of blood flow.

No absolute numbers can be equated with a hypertensive emergency as everyone’s blood pressure is unique to them.


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