Hypertensive Crisis – Types, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment.

A medical student checking blood pressure using a
sphygmomanometer and stethoscope. (photo credit: wikipedia)

Hypertensive crisis is a kind of increase in the blood pressure level of a person and it leads to a heart attack. This kind of high blood pressure damages blood vessels to a great degree.

When the systolic (the top level blood pressure of 180 millimetres of mercury and the bottom level blood pressure of 120 millimeters of mercury) increases, the blood vessels inflames and accumulates fibrin and platelets. Because of this, it might become a problem for the heart to render effective pumping of the blood.

If proper precaution is not taken, this disease may become life-threatening and chances of heart attack, strokes, kidney and heart failure may arise.

Types of Hypertensive crisis

Hypertensive crisis may be sub-categorised into two types: emergency and urgent. In case of an emergency hypertensive crisis, the blood pressure increases to a severe level and causes damage to the different organs of the body. However, in case of an urgent hypertensive crisis, though the blood pressure level increase is also extremely high, the doctors say that it will not damage the other organs. Although, immediate treatment is recommended for both kinds of crisis, the emergency hypertensive crisis may give rise to life-threatening complications.

Causes For The Appearance of Hypertensive crisis

The hypertensive crisis is mainly common in people who, though have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, their blood pressure level is controlled very inadequately. More than 60 million of the American population who have a high blood pressure condition develops this disease. Common causes include:

•    Vascular diseases
•    Use of drugs like amphetamines, and cocaine
•    Acute glomerulonephritis
•    Withdrawal from the treatment of any kind of antihypertensive medication
•    Head injury of some sort
•    Eclampsia and pre-eclampsia

Symptoms of Hypertensive Crisis

As mentioned above, hypertensive crisis has two divisions: emergency and urgent. A person suffering from emergency hypertensive crisis will show the following symptoms – bleeding and swelling in the brain, fluid in the lungs, tears in the aorta, also known as aortic dissection, stroke and heart attack symptoms. The general symptoms related to hypertensive crisis include anxiety, angina, and spells of headaches. As the disease continues to deteriorate, other symptoms such as fatigue, facing difficulties in breathing, cough will also begin to appear.


If a person is suspecting that he or she is experiencing such crisis, immediate medical assistance is recommended. If not treated timely, it can also result in the death of the person. During the treatment, while the primary focus is to bring down the blood pressure level, measures are also taken preventing damage to the blood vessels and attempts are made in reversing the process.

Oral and antihypertensive medication of intravenous nature such as nicardipine, diazoxide, and nitroprusside may be prescribed and many times hospitalisation of the patient might be needed.

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