What are the causes of sudden high blood pressure

High blood pressure: causes, symptoms, therapy

SOS - Sudden increase in blood pressure

Some people react to stressful situations with an extreme increase in blood pressure. Sometimes a sudden rise in blood pressure is also triggered by forgetting to take medication. The high blood pressure is usually noticeable through palpitations, restlessness and threatening feelings of fear. This stressful derailment of blood pressure is called a hypertensive crisis. In mild cases, it can help to lie down and try to relax a little. This helps to gradually lower high blood pressure levels. Such incidents should definitely be mentioned at the next doctor's visit. For people with a tendency to a sudden increase in blood pressure, there are special drugs that can work quickly in such crisis situations.

Immediate medical attention is needed in a hypertensive crisis, however, if one or more of the following symptoms appear:

  • Chest pain
  • Chest pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Speech and vision disorders
  • nausea
  • Vomit
  • Nosebleeds
  • Drowsiness
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis

Then the emergency number 112 must be dialed on the spot and an emergency doctor called. There is a risk that the high blood pressure will damage the heart, lungs, brain or blood vessels.

What is high blood pressure?

Blood pressure is created in the vessels by the pumping movement of the heart. The blood pressure is measured in two phases. Once at the moment when the heart muscle contracts the most (systolic pressure). On the other hand, at the moment when the heart muscle relaxes again (diastolic pressure). The unit of measurement for this up and down are two values, given in millimeters of mercury. For example, a healthy person has a blood pressure of around 120 to 80 mmHg (normal blood pressure values).

A temporary increase in blood pressure values ​​under physical exertion is normal and also necessary in order to be able to perform better at times. However, if the blood pressure values ​​are regularly above 135 to 85 mmHg, even at rest, there is a justified suspicion of high blood pressure. The attending physician will determine possible causes through more detailed examinations and initiate suitable therapy.

Consistently high blood pressure places a great deal of stress on blood vessels, which in the long term can lead to serious health problems. Long-term damage to the heart, kidneys, brain or eyes is not uncommon. Many heart attacks, but also cardiac arrhythmias, cardiac insufficiencies and strokes can be traced back to an existing high blood pressure. If left untreated, the widespread disease is a life-shortening condition.

Both the systolic (upper) and the diastolic (lower) values ​​are not increased in all patients. In some cases only one of the two values ​​shows an increase. This gives a clear indication of certain diseases. If the lower value is increased (from 90 mmHg), there may be a narrowing of the renal artery due to vascular calcification. This form of high blood pressure can also develop during pregnancy. Endocrinological diseases such as hyperthyroidism are another cause. Sleep apnea (breathing pauses in sleep) can also be behind excessive diastolic blood pressure values. If only the upper blood pressure value is increased (from 140 mmHg), this is considered a symptom of restricted elasticity of the blood vessels, which particularly affects the elderly.

Hypertension Symptoms

What is dangerous about high blood pressure is that many sufferers initially feel no symptoms and accordingly do not notice anything about their disease. It is assumed that up to a fifth of those suffering from high blood pressure are symptom-free or cannot correctly assign the rather unspecific symptoms to hypertension. Symptoms of severe high blood pressure include, for example:

  • sleep disorders
  • a headache
  • dizziness
  • Visual disturbances
  • nervousness
  • irritability
  • limited performance

Classification of high blood pressure

However, only regular measurement of blood pressure can bring clarity to the diagnosis. The determined values ​​allow a general definition of the degree of hypertension.

Systolic value:

  • optimal up to 120 mmHg
  • normal 120-129 mmHg
  • highly normal 130-139 mmHg
  • High blood pressure grade 1 140-159 mmHg
  • High blood pressure grade 2 160-179 mmHg
  • High blood pressure grade 3 180 mmHg and more

Diastolic value:

  • optimal up to 80 mmHg
  • normal 80-84 mmHg
  • highly normal 85-89 mmHg
  • High blood pressure grade 1 90-99 mmHg
  • High blood pressure grade 2 100-109 mmHg
  • High blood pressure grade 3 110 mmHg and more

High blood pressure - causes

In only 15 percent of those affected, there is another disease behind the high blood pressure. This is called secondary hypertension. Then high blood pressure occurs, for example, due to a malfunction of the thyroid gland or the kidneys. The majority of high blood pressure diseases, however, are genetic or develop from unfavorable living conditions.

Organic causes of high blood pressure:

  • familial disposition
  • Kidney disease
  • Circulatory disorders of the kidneys
  • abnormal changes in the blood vessels
  • increased hormone production
  • Sleep apnea syndrome

Lifestyle and high blood pressure:

High blood pressure can also develop through unfavorable living conditions. Known risk factors are:

  • Obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • excessive alcohol consumption
  • Smoke
  • stress
  • an irregular day-night rhythm
  • unfavorable diet (few fruit and vegetables)
  • too salty food
  • Taking certain medications (painkillers and rheumatism drugs)
  • Contraception with birth control pills

Hypertension Diagnosis

Checking blood pressure and pulse is one of the general practitioner's standard examinations that are part of every health check-up. If the doctor detects high blood pressure values, he will check the blood pressure measurement regularly. If necessary, he can also order a long-term measurement. The patient then receives an automatic blood pressure monitor that continuously takes measurements, even in the home environment, and saves them in the practice for later evaluation.

During the consultation, the doctor will also ask about high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases in the patient's family. He will inquire about stressful living conditions and possible complaints as well as other existing illnesses and ongoing drug therapies. A blood and urine test may be done to determine if there are abnormal uric acid, cholesterol, creatinine, or glucose levels. These could be signs of a metabolic disorder that increases blood pressure. Liver values ​​and TSH (the hormone that controls the work of the thyroid) in the blood may also be measured.

A stress ECG is sometimes used as a further examination. Ultrasound examinations of the heart or the abdomen can also be carried out. A referral to a cardiologist, ophthalmologist or sleep laboratory may also be necessary.

Hypertension Treatment

Today there are many effective and well-tolerated drugs for the treatment of high blood pressure (antihypertensive therapy). The drug therapy, however, only regulates the increased values ​​down to a normal level. A cure from high blood pressure is not achieved. The tablets must be taken continuously.

A combination of different active ingredients helps many patients best. The art of the doctor lies in determining the most effective combination for each individual. This varies from patient to patient. The doctor must also consider interactions with the other necessary medication for those affected. For example, the alpha-1 receptor blockers used in men's medicine also have a dampening effect on blood pressure.

Medicines for high blood pressure

The following list sorts the individual drugs according to the principle of action that is used:

  • Diuretics have a diuretic effect. Due to the increased excretion of water and salts, the volume of blood fluid decreases. This leads to a relief of the blood vessels. Diuretics are mostly taken in combination with other blood pressure medicines.
  • Beta blockers occupy the receptors to which the body's own stress hormones can dock. The blood pressure-increasing effect of the hormones is prevented in this way. Beta blockers slow down and stabilize the heartbeat.
  • Calcium antagonists slow down the supply of calcium to the muscle cells of the heart and blood vessels. This leads to a relaxation of the muscle tissue concerned.
  • ACE inhibitors suppress the production of a hormone in the body that causes blood vessels to narrow. In this way, ACE inhibitors prevent blood pressure from increasing.
  • AT-1 receptor antagonists, like ACE inhibitors, suppress the blood pressure-increasing effect of the hormone angiotensin II. They are considered to have very few side effects.
  • Renin inhibitors also intervene in hormone metabolism. However, at a different point of attack than, for example, the ACE inhibitors. Here too, hormonal effects that cause the blood vessels to constrict are suppressed.


Sedentary lifestyle is a major risk factor for hypertension. Light to moderate endurance sports often have a positive effect on lowering blood pressure. On the one hand, sport increases the resilience and performance of the cardiovascular system. On the other hand, the movement counteracts the harmful effects of stress. Even inexperienced people can get active. Gentle sports such as cycling, walking or gymnastics make only moderate demands on the untrained organism.

Diet change

Anyone who shifts the focus of their diet towards fruit and vegetables is doing something against high blood pressure. Quitting smoking or significantly reducing alcohol consumption are also important contributions. A low-salt diet can also help some people. In order to reduce obesity, sugar consumption should also be reduced.

Therapy for secondary hypertension

In all cases in which another disease leads to the occurrence of high blood pressure, one speaks of secondary hypertension. Therapy here consists of targeted treatment and, if possible, healing of the underlying disease. Often the original disease is thyroid or kidney disorders. With the successful treatment of the underlying disease, the high blood pressure values ​​also decrease.

What can you do yourself if you have high blood pressure?

Your own blood pressure can be checked regularly by self-measurements. Easy-to-use blood pressure devices are available from stores or pharmacies. Important: When measuring on your own, the arm that is being measured should always be held at heart level.

Regular endurance sport without overloading the body can contribute to a measurable reduction in blood pressure. Cycling, swimming, walking or at least brisk walking are recommended. Even 30 minutes a day results in a noticeable training effect. Autogenic training, yoga and progressive muscle relaxation according to Jacobson help against stress-related hypertension.

Smokers should give up nicotine consumption. Alcohol should only be drunk in moderation, if at all. Fish, fruits and vegetables should play a more important role in the diet. Ready meals, meat and heavily processed meals are eaten less often. Any excess weight is best reduced gradually in small steps.

Homeopathy for high blood pressure

Homeopathy also sees the dangers of high blood pressure as an important field of treatment. The different manifestations of high blood pressure can be targeted with homeopathic medicines. The therapy in question should not only be coordinated with the homeopath, but also with the treating physician. The following homeopathic remedies may alleviate the blood pressure problems that occur (selection):

  • Glonoinum: for high blood pressure with a flushed head and pulsating headache
  • Rauwolfia: if the blood pressure is increased without any identifiable cause
  • Barium carbonicum: for high blood pressure and snoring during sleep
  • Aurum metallicum: for headaches accompanied by dizziness, quick reactions to stress

Acupuncture for high blood pressure

If hypertension is diagnosed, in addition to conventional medical therapy, treatment in an acupuncture practice is also an option. The targeted, fine needles influence the complex control mechanisms of blood pressure. The influence of acupuncture on high blood pressure was examined in 2015 in a study with 65 participants. The patients all had moderate hypertension. Weekly electro-acupuncture above the wrists and below the knees led to a decrease in hypertension in 70 percent of those treated after a treatment period of two months. Typical indicators and triggers for hypertension were also only detectable in lower concentrations in the blood of the test subjects. In contrast, no antihypertensive effects were found in a control group.

High blood pressure in the elderly

The frequency of hypertension increases with age. This is not least due to the natural aging processes. The elasticity of the blood vessels is lower in older people than in younger people. The consequences of the vascular changes can be read off from the increase in the upper (systolic) blood pressure value. The lower (diastolic) blood pressure value, on the other hand, is often stable or only slightly increased. Typical age-related diseases such as hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis) also contribute to the development of hypertension. Although the gradual rise in blood pressure is a natural process, the elderly benefit greatly from high blood pressure treatment. Falling blood pressure values ​​lead to a significant increase in life expectancy.

High blood pressure in children

With the increase in the number of children who are overweight at an early age, high blood pressure has become a widespread health problem even at this age. It is assumed that five percent of children already suffer from hypertension. The paediatricians therefore sometimes also carry out blood pressure examinations from the age of 3 as part of their preventive examinations. The interpretation of the determined values ​​is, however, more complicated than for adults. Pediatrics uses special tables that differentiate between the sex and age of the children in order to be able to reliably diagnose high blood pressure. The same limit values ​​as for adults only apply to adolescents over 16 years of age.

High blood pressure in pregnancy

Hypertension occurs in around one tenth of pregnancies. Usually high blood pressure does not show up until the second half of pregnancy and normalizes within three months after delivery. Blood pressure values ​​of up to 140/90 mmHG are still regarded as a normal change in pregnant women. Higher values ​​must be monitored closely. Important: Not all antihypertensive drugs are suitable for treating pregnant women. In spite of high blood pressure, pregnancies without complications are possible.

Hypertension - ICD Code

In medicine, every illness is assigned its own ICD code. The abbreviation ICD stands for International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. The classification system is recognized worldwide and one of the most important for medical diagnoses. Essential (primary) hypertension is recorded under the ICD code "I10". Entering this code often helps with research on the Internet.

High blood pressure - what does the health insurance company pay for and what do you have to pay for yourself?

Members of a statutory health insurance basically have the right to inpatient and outpatient care, to drugs and other services. As a rule, however, certain personal contributions (additional payments) are stipulated by law. These additional payments amount to 10 percent of the costs, but a maximum of 10 euros per additional payment. If the service costs less than 5 euros, the insured person must pay the actual price.

These limits also apply to pharmaceuticals. If the person concerned receives a particularly inexpensive preparation, there is no additional payment. The health insurances can determine fixed amounts that they reimburse if several preparations with the same active ingredient are available. Medicines, the price of which is 30 percent below this fixed amount, are reimbursed by the health insurances without additional payment.

In addition, there is a regulation that the statutory health insurance no longer has to reimburse the individual price of the respective drug for certain preparations, but only the fixed amount that has been set for a group of comparable preparations. If the prescribed medication is more expensive, the patient has to pay the additional price himself plus the statutory additional payment for the reimbursed portion of the costs.

Co-payments also apply in the event of a hospital stay. They amount to 10 euros per calendar day, whereby the additional payment only has to be made for a maximum of 28 days per year.Several hospital stays can be combined in one year, so that the maximum additional payment for inpatient treatment is 280 euros per calendar year.

In the case of home nursing, a one-time fee of ten euros is due for the prescription. In addition, a personal contribution of 10 percent per day is to be paid. The co-payment is limited to 28 calendar days per calendar year and is only charged for adults over 18 years of age. The upper limit of EUR 280 per calendar year also applies to home care. Co-payments for hospital stays count towards the cap on co-payment for home nursing.

If the costs for household help are covered by the health insurance, the insured must make an additional payment of 10 percent of the costs incurred. The limits are at least 5 and a maximum of 10 euros per calendar day. This co-payment obligation applies to the entire period in which domestic help is used.

In the case of aids, the insured must make an additional payment of 10 percent of the selling price, with an upper and lower limit of 10 and 5 euros per prescription.

The amount of co-payments for rehabilitation measures depends on the measure and the respective cost bearer.

The costs for pain therapy in a pain clinic are usually covered by any statutory health insurance company, as it is a contracted medical service. However, additional costs (such as additional payments for prescriptions) may arise privately.

The costs of a classic body acupuncture are covered by all statutory health insurances for chronic pain in the lumbar spine or knee osteoarthritis. It is assumed that the pain has existed for at least six months. In such cases, legally insured persons are entitled to up to ten acupuncture sessions per case of illness within a maximum of six weeks. A new treatment can take place no earlier than twelve months after completion of the last acupuncture treatment. The health insurance will only reimburse the costs if the treatment is carried out by a qualified doctor. Acupuncture from a naturopath is not accepted. The costs are then to be paid privately.

High blood pressure - what does the DFV take care of?

The outpatient supplementary health insurance DFV-AmbulantSchutz reimburses you for additional payments provided for by law for medicines, bandages, remedies and aids and travel costs as part of outpatient treatment. The DFV-AmbulantSchutz also offers you extended pension benefits and is also there to support you financially if a serious illness is diagnosed.

In the event of illness, with the additional hospital insurance DFV-KlinikSchutz Exklusiv, you do not wait longer than 5 days for an appointment with a specialist doctor.

You also benefit from head physician treatment, a single room, free choice of hospital and daily hospital allowance for an inpatient clinic stay. DFV-KlinikSchutz makes you a private patient in the hospital including international health insurance.

FAQ about high blood pressure

What is the main reason for high blood pressure?

The level of blood pressure depends on many factors. However, high blood pressure has probably taken the step to become a widespread disease due to the changed living conditions in our modern society. More and more people are overweight. The average body mass index is increasing worldwide. Many people have an unbalanced diet. In addition, there is a general lack of exercise. More and more people, including younger ones, suffer from type 2 diabetes. This is also one of the reasons that the average population's blood pressure is rising steadily.

At what level is the blood pressure too high?

The normal blood pressure values ​​for adults are 120 to 80 mmHG. From 130 to 85 mmHg one speaks of an increased blood pressure (highly normal). Even high blood pressure means an increased cardiovascular risk. Excessive blood pressure exists from 140 to 90 mmHg (high blood pressure grade 1). The blood pressure is already too high when one of the two values ​​reaches or exceeds the limit (140 or 90 mmHg). High blood pressure always means that cardiovascular diseases or organ damage can occur in the long term. Medical treatment is therefore absolutely necessary.

Why does exercise help against high blood pressure?

Sport is healthy. In terms of blood pressure, this is particularly true for endurance sports such as cycling, walking or swimming. The even exertion improves the elasticity of the blood vessels. Stress hormones in the blood are broken down by exercise. The cardiovascular system becomes more efficient and resilient through training. The increased well-being through exercise also has a positive influence on the risk of cardiovascular diseases. This not only applies as a preventive measure, but also in the case of existing high blood pressure. However, overexertion should be avoided.

Which doctor for high blood pressure?

The health check-ups that every general practitioner offers are a good opportunity to have your own blood pressure checked at regular intervals. Many risk factors for high blood pressure are also examined on this occasion. Cardiologists, internists and ophthalmologists, among others, are available as specialists for secondary diseases of high blood pressure.

How can I lower my high blood pressure?

Strict adherence to the drug therapy prescribed by the doctor is important. The remedies for high blood pressure must be taken regularly and continuously. In addition, physical exercise of at least 30 minutes a day has a positive effect on blood pressure. When eating, fruits, vegetables and fish should be used more often. On the other hand, heavily processed foods, foods with a high sugar content and frequent consumption of meat are unfavorable.


  • German Center for Cardiovascular Research e.V., Robert Koch Institute online, www.rki.de, accessed on January 5th, 2021
  • Deutsche Herzstiftung e.V., www.herzstiftung.de, accessed January 5, 2021
  • German High Pressure League e.V .: www.hochdruckliga.de (accessed January 6, 2021)
  • Professional Association of German Internists, www.internisten-im-netz.de (accessed on January 6, 2021)
  • Guidelines of the European Hypertension Society, under ESC, www.escardio.org (accessed January 6, 2021)
  • HalloVita Verlag, www.hallo-homoeopathie.de (accessed October 7, 2020)
  • German Acupuncture Society: www.deutsche-akupunkt-gesellschaft.de (accessed October 7, 2020)

All statements without guarantee.