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January 2023

Controlling Blood Pressure May Prevent ER Visits, Study Finds

No one enjoys going to the emergency room (ER). Sometimes there’s no avoiding the trip, but a lot of heart-related emergencies are actually preventable. The key is controlling your blood pressure.

Understanding high blood pressure

High blood pressure occurs when blood pushes against artery walls with extra force. This can contribute to heart attacks, strokes, and other crises.

High blood pressure develops over time in 9 out of 10 times, not due to another underlying condition. This is called essential high blood pressure. In other cases, medicines or problems with organs like your kidneys or heart are to blame. This is called secondary high blood pressure.

Behind the findings

In a new study, researchers reviewed records from more than 20.6 million heart-related emergencies. The results: Both high blood pressure types can send you to the ER.

Essential high blood pressure was the most common cause of cardiovascular visits in women—16%, compared to about 11% in men. Heart- or kidney-related secondary high blood pressure, meanwhile, was the top reason for men (nearly 15%) and second for women (14%).

Staying out of the ambulance

High blood pressure is common; half of all Americans have it. If you’re among them, ER visits aren’t inevitable. To prevent them:

  • Partner with your providers. Work with your healthcare team on a plan to control high readings. This might involve medicines, lifestyle changes, or monitoring numbers via an app.

  • Mind your meals. Eat more fresh fruits and veggies, and cut back on fried foods, salt, and alcohol.

  • Move your body. Aim for about 30 minutes of moderate activity—think brisk walking or biking—most days.

These changes are most effective the earlier in life you start—but beneficial at any age. And, they’ll lead to better health overall into your later years.

Know your numbers

About 1 in 3 adults with high blood pressure aren’t aware they have it. Ask for a blood pressure check. For most adults, readings of 130/80 mmHg or higher represent high blood pressure.




Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley, MSN, BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 12/1/2022
© 2000-2023 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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