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Hypertensive Crisis: When to Go to the ER for High Blood Pressure

If you are one of the 75 million Americans dealing with high blood pressure, you may have heard about a hypertensive crisis. Hypertension begins at a blood pressure reading of 140/90, and it becomes increasingly more severe after that. Because blood pressure spikes affect us all in different ways, it’s hard to know when should you go to the ER. One of Advance ER’s experienced physicians, Dr. Joseph Meier, takes time to answer your hypertension questions so you know exactly when to go to get medical help.

What is a hypertensive crisis?

Dr. Meier says, “A hypertensive crisis is when the blood pressure increases, or spikes, drastically. This is considered a crisis because it could damage organs and blood vessels and then lead to a stroke.”

What causes spikes in blood pressure?

“A hypertensive crisis could be triggered by many different things. Some of the more common catalysts are: missing a blood pressure medication dosage, heart attack, stroke, kidney failure or artery rupture. You can tell from this list that some issues will be much more critical as far as organ damage, so it is imperative to get to the ER for help,” he says.

When to go to the ER for high blood pressure:

“The American Heart Association states that a reading of 180/110 or greater requires immediate medical attention. If you take this reading two times in a row, five minutes apart, then you must head to the nearest ER,” says Dr. Meier.

Are there other symptoms to watch out for along with a high blood pressure reading?

“Yes, you should watch out for things like chest pain, blurred vision, headache, nausea, pain in the jaw or arm, anxiety, shortness of breath, seizures, confusion or a general lack of responsiveness. Any of these, coupled with a high blood pressure reading, are cause for emergency response,” says Dr. Meier.

What kind of organ damage might occur from a hypertensive crisis?

“The heart can be damaged, the kidneys may fail, the aorta may be compromised, the eyes could be damaged, there could be fluid in the lungs and even memory loss,” says Dr. Meier. “That’s why it’s so important to get fast medical intervention to try to minimize the damage of the hypertensive crisis.”

What kind of treatment will I get at the ER for hypertension?

“If you are diagnosed with a hypertensive episode, you will be given oral or intravenous medications to try to bring the blood pressure down,” says Dr. Meier. “Damage will also be assessed. If the heart is involved, or if you’ve had a stroke, additional treatment will be given to address those complications.”

Can a freestanding ER handle my hypertensive crisis?

“Most definitely. At Advance ER, you will find much of the same equipment as in a hospital-based ER, including what is needed to treat a hypertensive crisis, heart attack or stroke.Without the long wait times, you will be comfortable, diagnosed and treated in record time. Our unique Specialists NOW program also makes a cardiologist available* for additional consultation assistance, as needed,” he says. “We’re open 24/7 every day of the year, and you’ll get a board-certified physician with many years of experience, so don’t hesitate to come in if you are concerned about your blood pressure reading or if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms.”

Two convenient locations

Advance ER is available in two locations for your convenience: Park Cities and Galleria Area. Put us in your speed dial for emergencies: (214) 494-8222

Advance ER: the right care in the right place at the right time.

*Access to specialists through Advance ER’s SPECIALIST NOW program is contingent on the specialist’s availability.

Meet Dr. Meier:

Dr. Joseph Meier is board-certified in emergency medicine and he received his medical degree, with honors, from Mayo Medical School, Rochester, MN.

He completed his emergency medicine residency at UC Davis, Sacramento, CA, where he pioneered ultrasound protocols and chest pain protocols. Dr. Meier has experience in diagnosing and treating a variety of chronic, acute and sudden-onset conditions.