Home » When Is High Blood Pressure An Emergency? [Urgent Drugs & Measures]

When Is High Blood Pressure An Emergency? [Urgent Drugs & Measures]

when is high blood pressure an emergency

High blood pressure is an emergency when the successive readings are equal to 180/120 mmHg or greater. That is to say, the blood pressure is dangerously high (hypertensive crisis) and this is where it can go before a stroke.

In general medical practice a hypertensive crisis is when the a systolic blood pressure (SBP) is 220 mm Hg or higher or the diastolic blood pressure (DBP) is 120 mm Hg or higher.

Symptoms of a hypertensive emergency are such as:

  • Back pain
  • Chest pain 
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vision changes such as blurred vision or seeing spots in your vision
  • Numbness
  • Dysarthria or difficulty speaking

What factors can cause an emergency BP elevation are not well-known. 

But, some humoral vasoconstrictor substances that release from the stressed vessel wall may be the cause of the start and continuance of a high blood pressure emergency.

The most common cause of hypertensive crisis is sudden elevations in blood pressure in people with chronic hypertension.

Remember that a hypertensive emergency (Hypertensive encephalopathy) is any circumstance that needs instant blood pressure reduction.

Hypertensive emergencies should be handled in hospitals delivering medical care 24 hours a day to prevent or at least limit any likely organ damages.

If a hypertensive crisis (hypertensive emergency (HE) and hypertensive urgency) not treated just in time, can lead to:

  • Hypertensive encephalopathy
  • Intracerebral hemorrhage
  • Acute myocardial infarction
  • Acute heart failure
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Unstable angina
  • Dissecting aortic aneurysm
  • Preeclampsia/eclampsia

Other hypertensive crisis clinical reports are as follows.

  • Severe headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Epistaxis
  • Faintness
  • Severe anxiety

Also, controlling blood pressure continuously is crucial, generally by use of direct arterial blood pressure check.

According to suggestions, the mean arterial pressure (MAP) should not be reduced by more than 20% within the first 60 minutes.

And the goal to treat an emergency high blood pressure is to reach diastolic blood pressure of 100 to 110 mm Hg.

When To Worry About Blood Pressure Readings?


When To Worry About Blood Pressure Reading

A reading of 120/80 mmHg or lower is considered normal blood pressure. 

That is when the systolic blood pressure (SYS) shows around 120 mmHg and diastolic pressure (DIA) is about 80 mmHg.

Elevated blood pressure or stage 1 is when a blood pressure monitor shows an SYS of 120-129 and a DIA of 80.

But, you should worry about blood pressure reading if the systolic is 130-139 and diastolic is 80-89 mmHg. That means you are at stage 2 hypertension.

When Is Blood Pressure Dangerously High?


If readings are 140/90mmHg or more and you should start treatment to bring the BP to 130/80mmHg or lower.

But remember, the blood pressure is dangerously high when consecutive readings show 180/120 mmHg or higher. 

That is called a hypertensive crisis or hypertensive emergency that can lead to life-threatening and severe health issues such as stroke, heart failure, myocardial infarction, damage to the eyes, and renal failure.

For that reason, you must call 911 and go for the urgency of treatments of hypertension without wasting a second.

How To Lower Blood Pressure Instantly In An Emergency?


There are some methods that can be useful for emergency treatment for high blood pressure at home, such as:

1. Emergency drugs


There are some medications that are prescribed in case of emergencies to lower blood pressure instantly and in minutes

A doctor may prescribe:

Furosemide (Lasix)

Furosemide oral that is known as a brand name Lasix is a loop diuretic that inhibits absorbing too much salt and helps dispose of excess salt by urination.

For that reason, it is a medicine for treating edema (water retention) in people suffering from kidney disorders, congestive heart failure, or liver diseases.

But, Lasix on the other side can lower HP (hypertension).

To put it briefly, it is one of the antihypertensive diuretic drugs that lower blood pressure by increasing the arteries of your kidneys that results in more urination.

Nifedipine (Adalat capsules)

Nifedipine known as a brand name Adalat is one of calcium channel blockers that is used for treating not only high blood pressure but also angina and Raynaud's phenomenon and premature labor.

Nifedipine medications can help manage angina that is a type of chest pain. 

It helps to relax your blood vessels so that blood flows more easily in your body. 

Given these points, using the Adalat capsule under the tongue reduces the high blood pressure and spasm of arteries that cause pain. 

But you should ask for advice from a doctor and remember that you have to take them regularly to achieve a result. 

Captopril (Capoten)

Captopril drug is an inhibitor for angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE).

This medication is used for treating hypertension and congestive heart failure to increase the chance of endurance and survival.

Nitroglycerin (GTN)

GTN that stands for glyceryl trinitrate is used for some critical health problems such as heart failure, high blood pressure, and chest pain (angina).

Nitroglycerin as a sublingual medication relaxes your blood vessels. For that reason, your heart will work effortlessly and blood pressure decreases. 

That’s why it is used for the treatment of angina in the case of coronary artery disease.

2. Emergency measures


Here are some tricks to lower blood pressure before an emergency medical service (EMS) arrives.

  • Press between your thumb and forefinger for 4 minutes.
  • Needle your fingertips to let a few drops of blood releases.

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Lasix: Uses, Dosage & Side Effects. (n.d.). Retrieved July 11, 2020, from https://www.drugs.com/lasix.html

Adalat Oral: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Pictures, Warnings & Dosing. (n.d.). Retrieved July 11, 2020, from https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-8964/adalat-oral/details

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