What happens to blood pressure during a heart attack?
Blood pressure is the amount of force your blood provides when it is pushed from the heart and circulated to different organs throughout the body. Many people have a doubt about the blood pressure during a heart attack and frequently they ask this question “is blood pressure high during a heart attack”?
During a heart attack episode, the flow of blood is blocked to a particular portion of the heart. This may cause some variations in the blood pressure such as:
- Sometimes, the blood pressure decreases
- In other cases, there may be an increase in blood pressure
- Some people may notice no change in blood pressure
The heart rate and blood pressure change during a heart attack are unpredictable. Therefore, any changes in blood pressure can be used as a signal of a heart attack. But still, other symptoms of heart attack are much more pronounced. Read about heart attack symptoms in men and heart attack symptoms in women.
Blood pressure is measured by evaluating the pressure on the walls of the arteries that blood exerts while flowing through them. The flow of blood to a part of the heart is cut off during a heart attack. This happens when a blood clot blocks the artery. The affected part of the heart does not get the required oxygen (without blood supply) to function properly. Read about blood pressure measurement.
More: What Happens to the Heart during a Heart Attack
Decreased blood pressure
When blood pressure decreases during a heart attack the condition is known as hypotension. Low blood pressure during a heart attack can be due to a few factors such as:
Damaged tissue makes the heart to pump less blood
The blocked blood flow may kill the tissues that make up the heart muscle. Such damaged tissues reduce the amount of blood pumped to the rest of the body.
In response to pain
The pain during a heart attack can trigger a vasovagal response. A vasovagal response is the reaction of the nervous system to a trigger such as extreme stress or pain. This sudden response can cause a drop in blood pressure and can even make the patient faint.
The parasympathetic nervous system goes into overdrive
The parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) is responsible for the resting state of the body. The blood pressure is generally low in the resting state. A heart attack may cause the PNS to go into overdrive which lowers the blood pressure even more.
More: Hypotension (Low Blood Pressure) Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment
More: Sharp pain in chest: What it means and when should you see a doctor?
Increased blood pressure
Some people may experience an increase in their blood pressure levels during a heart attack. This condition is known as hypertension. The increased blood pressure during a heart attack can be due to following factors:
A sudden spike in hormones
Blood pressure may increase when there is a sudden spike in hormones like adrenaline. Such hormones are responsible for flooding the body during stressful situations. Therefore, during a heart attack (which is definitely a stressful condition), the adrenaline rush increases the blood pressure.
The sympathetic nervous system goes into overdrive
The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is responsible for the “fight or flight” reactions. A heart attack causes the SNS to go into overdrive which eventually increases the blood pressure.
Blood pressure before a heart attack
Blood pressure before a heart attack is also unpredictable. Scientists have found that a high blood pressure (that is more than 140/80) increase the risk of a heart attack.
Scientists also discovered that a systolic blood pressure (the force of blood on the arteries walls) of more than 120 mmHg and a diastolic blood pressure (the pressure of the blood between heartbeats) of less than 70 mmHg increase the likelihood of a heart attack to a great extent.
Blood pressure after a heart attack
High blood pressure is always a major risk factor for heart disease. A blood pressure that is less than 140/90 mm Hg is considered normal. Any patient of a heart attack should have a target of reducing the blood pressure.
Blood pressure can be lowered by adopting certain lifestyle habits which are considered healthy such as:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Losing weight if you are overweight
- Not eating much salt
- Medication ( in case of a persistently high blood pressure)