Malignant high blood pressure

Malignant high blood pressure (malignant hypertension) is very high blood pressure that comes on suddenly and is an emergency. If not treated, it can damage the brain, heart, eyes, or kidneys.

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. Symptoms include numbness, blurry vision, chest pain, and confusion.

Malignant high blood pressure usually means a diastolic blood pressure (the lower number in a blood pressure reading) higher than 120 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Normal diastolic pressure for an adult is 79 or lower.

This problem is also called hypertensive crisis or hypertensive emergency.

Last Updated: April 10, 2009

Author: Robin Parks, MS & Cynthia Tank

Medical Review: Caroline S. Rhoads, MD - Internal Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology & Ruth Schneider, MPH, RD - Diet and Nutrition & John A. McPherson, MD, FACC, FSCAI - Cardiology

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