What Does Hypertension Urgency Mean?

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ask the experts

Could you please tell me what is meant by the term "hypertension urgency?" Also, doesn't this mean that the patient is close to developing malignant hypertension?

Doctor's response

Hypertensive urgency is not a precise well defined medical term. This would relate to a situation where clinically it is necessary to immediately lower the blood pressure. This could be because the pressure is too high, such as a diastolic BP of 130 or g

reater without symptoms. Since complications may occur at this level of BP, there is some urgency to at least take the edge off the BP.

Alternatively, the blood pressure may be elevated to a more moderate degree, but associated with another clinical problem that requires better blood pressure control over the short term such as cardiac chest pain, congestive heart failure, a dissecting aortic aneurysm, signs of an impending stroke or generalized encephalopathy (brain dysfunction with brain swelling), pre-eclampsia of pregnancy, or in certain instances a post-operative patient.

Generally speaking, high blood pressure is a long term problem. It is the exception where there is "urgency" in the control of high blood pressure.

Thank you for your question.

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Reviewed on 1/11/2018

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