Due to a variety of demographic and public health factors, the number of emergency department visits related to hypertensive emergencies has increased dramatically in recent decades, making it imperative that clinicians clearly understand the current treatment guidelines and definitions for the spectrum of hypertensive disease.
Our recent issue Hypertensive Emergencies: Guidelines and Best-Practice Recommendations reviews current evidence on identifying and managing hypertensive emergencies and the differences between expert opinions on diagnosing and managing these emergencies.
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Here are a few key points:
- Hypertensive urgency, hypertensive crisis, and malignant hypertension are terms that have historically been used to describe severely elevated blood pressure (BP) with no evidence of end-organ damage.
- Hypertensive emergency is a clinical syndrome of significantly elevated BP that is associated with end-organ damage.
- Hypertensive emergencies are more likely among patients aged >60 years, male, Black, underinsured or uninsured, and/or living in lower socioeconomic areas. These factors should be considered in disposition.
- The patient history should include any pre-existing end-organ dysfunction, so it can be differentiated from an acute process.