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Hypertensive Crisis


A hypertensive crisis is a sudden spike in blood pressure to 180/120 or higher. It is also known as acute hypertension. A hypertensive crisis is a medical emergency. It could lead to organ damage or be life-threatening.



The following medicines may be ordered for you:

  • Blood pressure medicine is given to lower your blood pressure. There are many different types of blood pressure medicine, and you may need more than one type.
  • Diuretics help decrease extra fluid that collects in your blood vessels. This lowers your blood pressure by reducing pressure in your arteries. Diuretics are often called water pills. You may urinate more often while you take this medicine.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider within 1 week or as directed:

You will need to return to have your blood pressure checked and other tests. Your healthcare provider may also refer to you a cardiologist. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Monitor your blood pressure at home:

Take your blood pressure while in a seated position. Take it at least twice a day, such as morning and evening. Keep a log of your blood pressure readings and bring it to your follow-up visits.

Help prevent another hypertensive crisis:

  • Manage other health conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disease, or adrenal problems. These conditions can cause or worsen a hypertensive crisis.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods including fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. You will need to limit how much sodium and fat you eat. You also may need to eat more potassium. Ask if you need to be on a special diet. Changes to your diet will help lower your blood pressure.
  • Ask if you are at a healthy weight. Ask your healthcare provider to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight. Even a little weight loss can help lower your blood pressure.
  • Ask your healthcare provider about the best exercise plan for you. Exercise may help lower your blood pressure.
  • Limit alcohol to 1 drink a day if you are a woman. A man should limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking causes heart disease and may also raise your blood pressure. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you need help to quit smoking.

For more information:

  • American Heart Association
    7272 Greenville Avenue
    Dallas , TX 75231-4596
    Phone: 1- 800 - 242-8721
    Web Address:

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You run out of medicine.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You take your blood pressure and it is 180/110 or higher.
  • You have a severe headache.
  • You have chest pain or shortness of breath.
  • You have weakness or numbness in your face, arms, or legs.
  • You cannot see or talk as well as usual.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.