While it is normal for blood pressure to fluctuate for all people (due to activity), any actual reading (or Heart Habit estimate) above 180 systolic or 110 diastolic may require emergency treatment.

Ensure that the reading is a resting measurement with no physical activity, eating, drinking alcohol or caffeine and smoking.

If confirmed, call 911 immediately. Time is of the essence and through simple medication seldom requiring hospital stay, the blood pressure can be brought into a non-critical range quickly to then treat for longer term health.

While the blood pressure is one indicator, never ignore certain critical symptoms if you have hypertension - especially if measuring your blood pressure at the moment is not possible.

If you experience any of the following symptoms, call 911 right away to seek treatment:

  • Severe headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nosebleeds
  • Severe anxiety

The consequences of uncontrolled, critical hypertension can be severe to fatal and include:

  • Stroke
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Memory loss
  • Heart attack
  • Kidney and eye damage
  • Aortic dissection
  • Angina
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Eclampsia

Most importantly, to prevent your blood pressure from ever reaching these critical levels, measure your blood pressure regularly and record for early warning signs that can be simple to address.