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Emergency Department Discharge Instructions

High blood pressure



Emergency Care Discharge Instructions

Instruction summary

In the short term, high blood pressure is rarely harmful. In the long term (i.e. months to years), however, it is: it can increase your risk for a heart attack, stroke and many other diseases.

In the ER, if you were told to visit your family doctor to start a new blood pressure medication, try to see your family doctor within a week or so. Even if you started a new blood pressure medication in the ER, you should still see your family doctor within about a week or so, to check that the dose is correct for you.

With blood pressure control, the goal is to reduce pressure slowly and steadily. If you have a blood pressure kit at home, take your blood pressure once each day. Take it at the same time every day, after sitting quietly for five minutes first. Record the reading. There is no need to take your blood pressure more often than this, as this may cause unnecessary stress and falsely high readings (feeling anxious makes the numbers go up). The goal is to bring the numbers down gradually, to less than 140/90 (the exact number varies for different patients) over several weeks or months.

Reasons to return to the ER
  1. Chest pain
  2. Significant shortness of breath (particularly when walking)
  3. Severe headache and/or confusion
  4. Changes in your vision