High blood pressure symptoms: Experiencing this sensation could be life-threatening

High blood pressure is pernicious because its harmful effects take a while to surface. If your blood pressure is consistently too high, it puts extra strain on your blood vessels, heart and other organs, such as the brain, kidneys and eyes. This raises your risk of triggering potentially life-threatening health conditions, such as heart disease.

The threshold that puts you in dangerous territory is having a systolic pressure reading of 180 millimetres of mercury (mm Hg) or higher or a diastolic pressure reading of 120 mm Hg or higher, according to Mayo Clinic.

What do these numbers mean?

Your blood pressure is recorded with two numbers:

  • The systolic pressure (higher number) is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body.
  • The diastolic pressure (lower number) is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels.

They’re both measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg).

If your blood pressure crosses into the danger zone, the body can undergo a number of unsettling changes.

In an emergency hypertensive crisis, your blood pressure is extremely high and has caused damage to your organs.

According to Mayo Clinic, an emergency hypertensive crisis can be associated with life-threatening complications.

Severe anxiety is a telltale sign of a hypertensive crisis that may be life-threatening, says the health body.

Other signs include:

  • Severe chest pain
  • Severe headache, accompanied by confusion and blurred vision
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Severe anxiety
  • Shortness of breath
  • Seizures
  • Unresponsiveness.

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How to respond

If you experience a severe increase in your blood pressure, seek immediate medical attention.

As the Mayo Clinic explains, treatment for hypertensive crisis may include hospitalisation for treatment with oral or intravenous medications.

Research published in the American Journal of hypertension suggests anti-anxiety treatment is effective in lowering blood pressure in patients with excessive hypertension.

Making healthy lifestyle changes is usually recommended to control your blood pressure in the long term.

One of the most important tips is to cut down on the amount of salt in your food and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.

As the British Heart Foundation (BHF) explains, eating too much salt may raise your blood pressure, and having high blood pressure increases your risk of developing coronary heart disease.

According to the BHF, adults should eat less than six grams of salt each day – that’s about one teaspoon.

“This includes the salt that’s contained within ready made foods like bread, as well as the salt you add during cooking and at the table,” says the health body.

Following a healthy diet also helps you to maintain a healthy weight, which is integral to managing your blood pressure.

“Being overweight forces your heart to work harder to pump blood around your body, which can raise your blood pressure,” explains the NHS.

You should supplement a healthy diet with regular exercise to lose weight.

Regular exercise also brings direct benefits for blood pressure by keeping your heart and blood vessels in good condition, notes the NHS.

“Adults should do at least 150 minutes (two hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as cycling or fast walking, every week,” it advises.

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