Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Malignant Hypertension Overview

What is malignant hypertension?
A person with malignant hypertension has a life threatening increase in blood pressure, which causes damage to blood vessels in the brain, eyes, heart, and kidneys. In someone with malignant hypertension, the systolic blood pressure (top number) is usually over 220, or the diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) is over 115. Malignant hypertension requires immediate treatment, in order to stop ongoing damage to the brain, heart, kidneys, or eyes. The cause for malignant hypertension is unknown. It occurs in about 1 percent of people who have high blood pressure.

What are the symptoms of malignant hypertension?
Common symptoms of malignant hypertension include blurry vision, dizziness, headache, irritability, restlessness, nosebleeds, palpitations, vomiting, and leg swelling. Symptoms of worsening malignant hypertension include breathing difficulty, chest pain, and neurological symptoms, such as leg weakness, arm weakness, facial weakness, severe headache, difficulty speaking, or confusion.

How does the doctor treat malignant hypertension?
Treatment for malignant hypertension includes medications to lower the blood pressure, intravenous fluids, cardiac monitoring and beta-blockers.

Continue to Malignant Hypertension Incidence

Last Updated: Aug 27, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Malignant Hypertension References
  1. Browning AC, Mengher LS, Gregson RM, Amoaku WM. Visual outcome of malignant hypertension in young people. Arch Dis Child. 2001 Nov;85(5):401-3. [11668103]
  2. Scarpelli PT, Gallo M, De Cesaris F, et al. Continuing follow-up of malignant hypertension. J Nephrol. 2002 Jul-Aug;15(4):431-7. [12243376]
  3. Spencer CG, Lip GY, Beevers DG. Recurrent malignant hypertension: a report of two cases and review of the literature. J Intern Med. 1999 Nov;246(5):513-6. [10583722]
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