What is hypertensive emergency?

Hypertensive emergency

A hypertensive emergency is very high blood pressure that damages the body. It can cause damage to the brain, heart, eyes, or kidneys. A person's blood pressure may be 180/120 or higher.

A hypertensive emergency needs immediate care. Quick-acting medicines are used to lower blood pressure.

The cause may be unknown. Or the problem may be caused by medicine or another condition. Symptoms include headache, chest pain, trouble breathing, numbness, blurry vision, and confusion.

This problem is also called malignant hypertension.

What are the symptoms of a hypertensive emergency?

The symptoms of a hypertensive emergency include headache, chest pain, trouble breathing, numbness, blurry vision, and confusion.

How is a hypertensive emergency treated?

To treat a hypertensive emergency, doctors and nurses will carefully monitor your blood pressure and give you medicine intravenously (through a needle inserted in one of your veins). The immediate goal is to lower your blood pressure enough so that your organs are no longer in immediate danger. But it must be lowered slowly so that your body has enough time to adjust to the change in blood pressure. If blood pressure is lowered too quickly, your body may have a hard time getting blood to your brain.

The other goal of treatment is to treat organ complications. For example, your doctor may give you a diuretic if you have fluid buildup in your lungs. Or your doctor may give a beta-blocker and nitrates if you have myocardial ischemia (not enough blood is reaching your heart). After your doctor has lowered your blood pressure to a safe level and treated your complications, he or she will try to identify the cause of the acute episode. Your doctor will then work with you to create a treatment regimen that can help prevent future attacks.

How is a hypertensive emergency diagnosed?

Your doctor will do a physical exam and ask about your past health, including other health problems and any medicines you're taking. You may have tests to check for problems caused by high blood pressure. These tests may include an electrocardiogram (EKG), a chest X-ray, a urine test, blood tests, or imaging tests.

What other health problems can happen when you have a hypertensive emergency?

A hypertensive emergency can cause:

  • Bleeding in your brain or body.
  • Heart attack.
  • Stroke.
  • Heart failure.
  • Kidney failure.
  • Eye damage and loss of vision.

What causes a hypertensive emergency?

A hypertensive emergency can be caused by many things. These include other health problems, certain medicines, and not taking blood pressure medicines correctly. Another cause of a hypertensive emergency is illegal drug use, such as stimulants like cocaine.

What is a hypertensive emergency?

A hypertensive emergency is very high blood pressure that damages the body. A person's blood pressure may be 180/120 or higher. It can cause damage to the brain, heart, eyes, or kidneys. A hypertensive emergency needs immediate care.

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