In the vast majority of cases, there are no clear symptoms of high blood pressure (also known as hypertension), which can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and eye problems if untreated. The only way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to get your blood pressure checked on a regular basis. This is especially important if you have a close relative who has high blood pressure.
If your blood pressure is extremely high, there may be certain symptoms to look out for, including:
This problem is also called hypertensive crisis or hypertensive emergency.
Quick-acting medicines are used to lower blood pressure.
The cause may be unknown. Or the problem may be caused by medicine or another condition.
When to call a doctor
Call your doctor now or seek immediate care if:
Your blood pressure is much higher than normal (such as 180/110 or higher).
You think high blood pressure is causing symptoms, such as:
What problems does malignant high blood pressure cause?
Malignant high blood pressure can cause:
Bleeding in your brain or body.
Eye damage and loss of vision.
How can you prevent it?
It is better to prevent episodes of malignant high blood
pressure than to treat an episode after you have already had one. One of the
most common causes of malignant high blood pressure is not taking your blood
pressure medicines properly. Sometimes this happens unintentionally. For
example, your prescription may run out or you may forget to take a dose. But
try to stay on your medicine schedule as best as you can. Another cause of
malignant blood pressure is illegal drug use, such as stimulants like cocaine.
How is it treated?
To treat malignant high blood pressure,
doctors and nurses will carefully monitor your blood pressure and give you
medicine intravenously (through a needle inserted in one of your veins). The
immediate goal is to lower your blood pressure enough so that your organs are
no longer in immediate danger. But it must be lowered slowly so that your body
has enough time to adjust to the change in blood pressure. If blood pressure is
lowered too quickly, your body may have a hard time getting blood to your
The other goal of treatment is to treat organ
complications. For example, your doctor may give you a diuretic if you have
fluid buildup in your lungs. Or your doctor may give a beta-blocker and
nitrates if you have myocardial ischemia (not enough blood is reaching your
heart). After your doctor has lowered your blood pressure to a safe level and
treated your complications, he or she will try to identify the cause of the
acute episode. Your doctor will then work with you to create a treatment
regimen that can help prevent future attacks.
In this article
This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
March 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this