What Is Malignant Hypertension?
You probably already know that uncontrolled high blood pressure (hypertension) can lead to serious medical conditions.
What you may not know is that a hypertension emergency can be life-threatening.
What is Malignant Hypertension?
Malignant hypertension or hypertension emergency is when your blood pressure rises suddenly and quickly. The sudden rise can cause damage to one or more organs including, kidneys, heart, brain, eyes, and blood vessels.
Hypertension can turn into a medical emergency when a person’s blood pressure goes above 180/120.
Causes of Malignant Hypertension
Many factors can contribute to hypertensive crises. However, these episodes mainly occur in individuals with a history of chronic hypertension who missed or discontinued their antihypertensive medications.
Risk groups include African American makes and people who smoke. Additionally, some medical conditions can increase the risk of malignant hypertension episodes. These include:
- Kidney failure or kidney disorders
- The use of oral contraceptives
- Illegal drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines
- Pregnancy-induced high blood pressure (toxemia) or preeclampsia
- Certain autoimmune diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus
- Spinal cord injuries that lead parts of the nervous system to become overactive
- A narrowing of the aorta
Symptoms of Malignant Hypertension
The biggest problem with high blood pressure is that in many cases, there are no symptoms associated with it, which means someone can have hypertension and not know it.
Thankfully that is not the case with malignant hypertension. In fact, a hypertensive emergency has distinct and very noticeable symptoms, such as:
- Sudden vision problems, including blurred vision
- Changes in mental statuses, such as confusion, anxiety, inability to concentrate, and sleeplessness
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea or vomiting
- Weakness or numbness in the arms, face, or legs
- Reduced urine output
Like other severe medical emergencies such as a heart attack or stroke, malignant hypertension is a time-sensitive emergency. The longer the condition goes untreated, the higher the risk of long-term damage.
A severe hypertension crisis can lead to any of the following complications:
- Brain damage caused by insufficient blood reaching the brain, stroke, or seizures
- Heart damage, including angina, heart attack, and arrhythmia
- Kidney failure
- Vision damage, including permanent blindness
- Pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs)
Preventing Malignant Hypertension
Hypertension emergencies can happen to anyone, including children. As we mentioned earlier, those who have a diagnosis of high blood pressure are more at risk.
Therefore, if you live with chronic hypertension or you have a family history of high blood pressure, you would do well to:
- Regularly monitor your blood pressure
- Take your medication as prescribed by your doctor
- Eat a healthy diet that is low in salt and saturated fats
- Quit smoking
- Maintain a healthy weight
When to Come to Prestige ER
Anyone who experiences any of the symptoms listed above, but especially those who have a history of chronic high blood pressure, should seek immediate emergency medical attention.
You also call 911 or have someone drive you to our emergency room if you develop any new symptoms that might indicate a hypertensive emergency.
Don’t delay. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Remember, malignant hypertension is an emergency condition, one that can be life-threatening, so your insurance covers you when you come to Prestige ER.
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