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Hypertensive emergencies present significant challenges in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) due to their potential to cause severe complications if not managed promptly. Hypertension, characterized by elevated blood pressure levels beyond the normal range, poses a risk for organ damage and cardiovascular events. The ideal blood pressure falls within the range of 120/80 mmHg, as recommended by the American Heart Association, while high blood pressure is defined as readings of 140/90 mmHg or higher. EMS providers must be knowledgeable about hypertensive emergencies and recognize their potential signs and symptoms. Three common hypertensive emergencies that EMTs should be familiar with include acute myocardial infarction (AMI), aortic aneurysm, and dissecting aortic aneurysm. Understanding the differences in presentation between these conditions is essential for accurate diagnosis and appropriate management.

Differentiating between symptoms of hypertensive emergencies such as AMI and dissecting aortic aneurysm is crucial for effective prehospital care. AMI, commonly known as a heart attack, typically presents with symptoms such as chest pain or pressure, shortness of breath, nausea, and diaphoresis. On the other hand, a dissecting aortic aneurysm may present with sudden, severe chest or back pain that radiates to the neck, arms, or abdomen. Additional signs and symptoms may include difficulty breathing, a sense of impending doom, and changes in blood pressure or pulse. By understanding the cardiac processes involved in systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings and being familiar with the normal blood pressure ranges for adults, EMS providers can accurately assess and manage hypertensive emergencies, potentially preventing serious complications and improving patient outcomes.