Hypertensive Crisis

What is Hypertensive Crisis?

A hypertensive crisis is a severe increase in blood pressure that can lead to a stroke. Extremely high blood pressure — a systolic (top number) blood pressure of 180 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or higher and a diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure of 120 mm Hg or higher - damages blood vessels. They become inflamed and may leak fluid or blood. As a result, the heart may not be able to pump blood effectively.

A hypertensive crisis is divided into two categories: urgent and emergency.

An urgent hypertensive
crisis
is when your blood pressure is extremely high, but your doctor doesn't suspect you have any damage to your organs. Signs and symptoms of an urgent hypertensive crisis may include:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Severe headache
  • Severe anxiety
  • Shortness of breath

An emergency hypertensive
crisis
is when your blood pressure is extremely high, and has caused damage to your organs. An emergency hypertensive crisis can have life-threatening complications, such as:

  • Fluid in your lungs (pulmonary edema)
  • Brain swelling or bleeding
  • A tear in your heart's main artery (aortic dissection)
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure with seizures (eclampsia), if you are pregnant

If you experience a severe increase in your blood pressure, seek immediate medical attention. Treatment for hypertensive crisis may include hospitalization for treatment with oral or intravenous (IV) medications.

Source: mayo clinic.