Hypertensive crisis

Hypertensive crisis, also called hypertensive emergency, happens when blood pressure becomes so high that it is causing immediate danger and needs to be reduced rapidly. A person is said to be in a hypertensive crisis when his or her blood pressure is severely elevated and there are signs or symptoms of damage to the brain, heart, kidneys, or other organs.

Typically, a person in hypertensive crisis has a diastolic blood pressure (the lower number in a blood pressure reading) greater than 120 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). In comparison, normal diastolic pressure for an adult is less than 79 mm Hg. Diastolic pressure refers to the pressure of blood in the artery when the heart relaxes between beats.

Quick-acting medications can be used to reduce blood pressure during hypertensive crisis.

Last Updated: April 10, 2009

Author: Robin Parks, MS

Medical Review: Caroline S. Rhoads, MD - Internal Medicine & Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology & Ruth Schneider, MPH, RD - Diet and Nutrition

related physicians

related services

Bon Secours International| Sisters of Bon Secours USA| Bon Secours Health System

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Privacy Policy. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2010 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.