A blood pressure emergency happens when your blood pressure reaches 180/120 or above. You can try breathing exercises and drinking water to help lower your blood pressure within 5 minutes. But you may also need to call 911 or seek emergency medical help.
A blood pressure emergency occurs when your blood pressure reaches 180/120 or above.
This can happen with or without causing symptoms. When it happens without symptoms, it’s typically safe to wait about 5 minutes.
You can then take a second blood pressure reading to see if your blood pressure has come down. Methods such as breathing exercises, lying down flat, cold showers, and drinking water can sometimes help to quickly reduce your blood pressure at home.
But when your blood pressure of 180/120 or above causes symptoms, it’s not safe to wait at home. This is a medical emergency that needs attention. Read on to learn more.
A blood pressure emergency happens when your blood pressure reaches 180/120 or higher. This is also sometimes referred to as a hypertensive crisis, according to the
But not every significant blood pressure situation rises to the level of an emergency.
There are two types of blood pressure crisis:
- Hypertensive urgency: This happens when your blood pressure is 180/120 or above, but you don’t have any symptoms along with the high reading.
- Hypertension emergency: This happens when your blood pressure is very high and you’re experiencing symptoms. When this happens, it’s a medical emergency. It’s important to call 911 and seek emergency care.
If your blood pressure is 180/120 or higher and you’re not experiencing symptoms, you can wait about 5 minutes before taking another reading.
If your reading hasn’t gone down in those 5 minutes, but you haven’t developed symptoms, your blood pressure emergency would be classed as hypertensive urgency.
This type of blood pressure emergency needs medical attention, but it rarely requires hospitalization.
You might experience several different symptoms during a hypertensive emergency. If you experience these symptoms and have a blood pressure reading of 180/120 or higher, it’s important that you seek urgent medical care.
Symptoms of a hypertensive emergency include:
There are some medications that can cause your blood pressure to rise. Exactly how much that raises your blood pressure depends on a variety of factors, such as your age, genetics, and overall health.
Medications that could raise your blood pressure include:
- certain antidepressants
- immunosuppressant medications
- birth control pills and other hormonal medications
- migraine medications
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- acetaminophen (Tylenol)
- allergy medications
- asthma medications
- over-the-counter (OTC) cold medications
- thyroid hormone medication
- performance-enhancing steroids
- the weight loss medication phentermine
- supplements such as black licorice and Ephedra
Certain medications have a higher risk of increasing your blood pressure when they’re taken together. For instance, taking an OTC cold medication and an antidepressant on the same day can cause a spike.
Additionally, substances such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol are known to raise blood pressure. Consuming any of these along with medications linked to an increase in blood pressure may
If you’re experiencing a blood pressure spike without any other symptoms, you can try these methods at home to help bring down your blood pressure quickly but temporarily:
- Practice breathing exercises: Taking slow and deep breaths can help bring down your blood pressure. Try taking a deep breath and holding it for several seconds before letting it out. You can do this for a few minutes to help your body relax.
- Lie down: Lying down can also help you relax. It can help your blood flow and bring down your blood pressure. Try lying down for about 10 minutes for the best results.
- Take a bath or shower: Water can help soothe muscles and reduce stress. Cold water can constrict your blood vessels, and while that may initially raise blood pressure, it will lead to a later reduction in blood pressure during rewarming.
- Drink water: Dehydration can spike your blood pressure. Drinking water can help bring it back down.
While options such as sports drinks can sometimes be useful for hydration, they often contain additives, such as sodium, which
At what blood pressure should you go to the ER?
It’s important not to handle a blood pressure emergency at home if your blood pressure is 180/120 or higher and if you’re experiencing symptoms. This is a serious medical emergency that requires quick, expert help.
In this situation, it’s not safe to wait 5 minutes so that you can take a second reading or try to bring down your blood pressure on your own.
Calling 911 or having someone drive you to the nearest emergency room is the best response.
A blood pressure emergency occurs when your blood pressure reaches 180/120 or higher. When this happens without any accompanying symptoms, it’s safe to wait 5 minutes before taking a second blood pressure reading. Sometimes, methods such as deep breathing exercises and drinking water can help bring down your blood pressure quickly.
However, If your blood pressure reading is 180/120 and you’re experiencing symptoms such as blurry vision, chest pain, shortness of breath, numbness and tingling, and difficulty speaking, it’s crucial that you call 911 or have someone drive you to the nearest emergency room.