Medical Definition of Hypertensive crisis

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Hypertensive crisis: A severe and potentially life-threatening increase in blood pressure . A hypertensive crisis is a medical emergency. When the blood pressure rises to levels of 180/110 or greater, the blood vessels and organs may become damaged. This damage can be manifested as a number of conditions including stroke, heart attack, pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs), a tear in the main artery of the body, the aorta (known as an aortic dissection), and eclampsia (during pregnancy).

Symptoms of a hypertensive crisis can include the symptoms typical for a stroke or heart attack; difficulty breathing, changes in mental status, and severe headache may also occur. Immediate medical attention is required for a severe increase in blood pressure. Treatment can involve hospitalization and the use of oral and/or intravenous medications.

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Reviewed on 12/21/2018

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