Blood Pressure 188/120
A blood pressure reading of 188/120 indicates a Hypertensive Crisis.
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What does a blood pressure reading of 188/120 mean?
Readings above 180 systolic pressure or above 110 diastolic pressure indicate a hypertensive crisis. Blood pressure readings in this range put you at the highest risk for heart attack, stroke, and other life-threatening issues.
Extremely high blood pressure can cause headache, nausea, vision changes, mental confusion, chest pain and shortness of breath. It is considered a hypertensive emergency if you have a blood pressure reading over 185/110 combined with any of these symptoms. Call 911 and seek medical attention immediately.
Doctors may also diagnose you with hypertensive urgency when you don’t have any symptoms but your blood pressure remains high. Whether a hypertensive emergency or hypertensive urgency, it’s important to bring your blood pressure down as soon as possible.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to chronic damage of arteries and organs. Untreated, this can result in enlargement of the heart, heart failure and kidney damage, which may require dialysis.
Unfortunately, many don’t have any symptoms even with very high blood pressure. So it remains important to get your blood pressure checked on a regular basis.
What to do if your blood pressure reading is 188/120
A blood pressure reading of 188/120 is cause for concern. The first step is to take another reading to confirm your blood pressure.
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You may want to calm down before getting another blood pressure reading. Lie down and rest for a few minutes.
Call the doctor if several readings are above 210/130 but you have no symptoms. If the doctor isn’t available go to urgent care or an emergency room to be assessed for hypertensive urgency.
A blood pressure reading of 188/120 coupled with symptoms such as headache, nausea, blurry vision, chest pain and shortness of breath point to a hypertensive emergency.
This is a potentially life-threating issue and you should call 911 immediately.
Once you have been assessed by a medical professional there are a number of ways you can address a blood pressure reading of 188/120 .
Medications with Blood Pressure of 188/120
Medications can have a big impact on your blood pressure. There are a variety of different types of blood pressure medications available. Following is a short list of each type of medication and what they do to reduce blood pressure.
Helps rid the body of sodium (salt), which helps control blood pressure.
Helps reduce your heart rate, which helps lower blood pressure.
- ACE inhibitors
ACE stands for Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme. Helps the body produce less angiotensin, which helps the blood vessels relax and lowers blood pressure.
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers
Helps block the chemical that causes blood vessels to narrow, which helps blood vessels stay open and lowers blood pressure.
- Calcium channel blockers
Helps lower blood pressure by preventing calcium from entering smooth muscle cells, which can cause stronger heart contraction and narrow blood vessels.
- Alpha blockers
Helps relax certain muscles, which keeps blood vessels open and lowers blood pressure.
- Alpha-2 Receptor Agonists
Helps lower blood pressure by inhibiting sympathetic activity.
- Central agonists
Using a different nerve path than Alpha and Beta blockers, Central agonists help relax blood vessels, which lowers blood pressure.
Helps dilate (or open) the blood vessels, which lowers blood pressure.
In addition, ask your doctor if any medications could worsen your blood pressure. Typically this includes nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin as well as some types of anti-depressant medications.
Talk with your doctor about changing or adjusting the dosage of medications to help bring your blood pressure readings down.
Lifestyle Changes with Blood Pressure of 188/120
Medications can do a lot to reduce high blood pressure but lifestyle changes remain a frontline of defense.
The first step is to monitor your blood pressure on a consistent basis. Purchase a home blood pressure monitor that uses an arm cuff and check your blood pressure every few days. Keep a record of your blood pressure readings and share it with your doctor at your next visit.
Whether you’re checking your blood pressure regularly or not, lifestyle modifications are usually recommended. Lifestyle modifications for those with a blood pressure of 188/120 include the following:
- Stop smoking
- Lose weight
- Increase exercise
- Lower salt intake
- Reduce caffeine
- Limit alcohol
- Alleviate stress
Review your medical plan with a doctor before pursuing lifestyle modifications since each patient may have specific medical conditions that make certain activities dangerous. For instance, your level of physical exercise might be limited by a heart condition.
My Medical Score performs research to ensure the content is accurate and timely. Our sources include high-quality academic research institutions, medical associations and peer-reviewed studies.
Understanding Blood Pressure Readings (American Heart Association)https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/understanding-blood-pressure-readings
Choosing Blood Pressure Medications (Mayo Clinic)https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/in-depth/high-blood-pressure-medication/art-20046280
2017 Guideline for the Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Management of High Blood Pressure in Adults (Journal of The American College of Cardiology)http://www.onlinejacc.org/content/71/19/e127?_ga=2.86879320.1182640551.1528306905-1524800955.1528306905
Low Blood Pressure (MedlinePlus)https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007278.htm
Blood Pressure Readings Near 188/120
- BP 187/90
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