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What Doctors Don't Tell You

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August 2018 (Vol. 3 Issue 6)

Sudden rise in blood pressure doesn’t mean you’re about to have a heart attack, say doctors
About the author: 
Bryan Hubbard

Sudden rise in blood pressure doesn’t mean you’re about to have a heart attack, say doctors image

A sudden rise in blood pressure doesn’t mean you’re about to have a heart attack unless you’re also suffering chest pains, severe headache, nausea or shortness of breath at the same time.

High blood pressure (hypertension) isn’t a medical emergency on its own, say doctors who have seen a big rise in the number of people coming into A&E after monitoring their levels with a self-help kit at home.

Although visits to A&E following a high blood pressure reading have increased by 64 per cent, there has been a 28 per cent drop in the numbers who were then admitted to hospital. Of these, less than 1 per cent died within 90 days, and 4 per cent died during the following two years.

Researchers at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto, who tracked visits to emergency departments in Ontario between 2002 and 2012, say that people who don’t already have hypertension shouldn’t be constantly monitoring their blood pressure levels.

Even if they do, a rise in the readings isn’t an emergency without other symptoms. For those, a visit to the family doctor—rather than a rush to the A&E—is enough.


References

(Source: Annals of Emergency Medicine, 2016; doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2016.04.060)

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