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High Blood Pressure > High Blood Pressure Emergencies
High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension)
 

High Blood Pressure Emergencies

High blood pressure is typically a chronic condition that causes damage over the years. In some cases, though, blood pressure rises so quickly and severely that it constitutes a medical emergency requiring immediate treatment, often with hospitalization.

In these situations, high blood pressure can cause:

  • Brain dysfunction (encephalopathy)
  • Stroke .
  • Aortic dissection
  • Eclampsia
  • Unstable chest pain (angina)
  • Heart attack
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Acute renal failure

In most cases, these emergencies arise because high blood pressure hasn't been adequately controlled

Other possible dangers of high blood pressure

Evidence is mounting that high blood pressure can also affect other areas of the body, leading to such problems as

  • Sexual dysfunction. Although the inability to have and maintain an erection (erectile dysfunction) becomes increasingly common in men as they climb past age 30, it's even more likely to occur if they have high blood pressure, too. Evidence linking high blood pressure to sexual dysfunction in women isn't conclusive.
  • Bone loss. High blood pressure can increase the amount of calcium that's eliminated in the urine. That excessive elimination of calcium may lead to loss of bone mineral density (osteoporosis), which in turn can lead to fractures. The risk is especially increased in older women.

What your blood pressure measurement means

Blood pressure measurements fall into four general categories, ranging from normal to stage 2 hypertension. Where your blood pressure falls helps determine what kind of treatment you may need.

If your blood pressure is normal, maintaining or adopting a healthy lifestyle can prevent or delay the onset of hypertension. If your blood pressure isn't normal, a healthy lifestyle — oftentimes along with medication — can help bring it under control and reduce your risk of life-threatening complications.

Here's a look at the four blood pressure categories and what they mean for you.

Top number (systolic)

 

Bottom number (diastolic)

Your category

What to do*

Below 120

and

Below 80

Normal blood pressure

Maintain or adopt a healthy lifestyle.

120-139

or

80-89

Pre-hypertension

Maintain or adopt a healthy lifestyle.

140-159

or

90-99

Stage 1 hypertension

Maintain or adopt a healthy lifestyle. If blood pressure goal isn't reached in about 6 months, take one or more medications.

160 or more

or

100 or more

Stage 2 hypertension

Maintain or adopt a healthy lifestyle. Take more than one medication.

*Note: These recommendations address high blood pressure as a single health condition. If you also have heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease or certain other conditions, you'll need to treat your blood pressure more aggressively.

 
 
High Blood Pressure
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