Malignant Hypertension

Malignant hypertension is a medical emergency which is characterised by a severe rise in the blood pressure which cannot then be lowered. It is diagnosed by the presence of advanced retinopathy in the presence of a diastolic blood pressure of over 120 mm Hg.

Malignant hypertension is more prevalent in African type people and also more common in smokers. It affects about 1% of those people already suffering with high blood pressure. It is also known to occur in younger people (even children), and also in pregnancy.

In malignant hypertension, there is usually a characteristic rush or increase in the blood pressure often for no apparent reason. Because it is very difficult to reduce a malignant blood pressure, it can and will cause the vital organs of the body irreparable harm. This can include the brain, eyes, heart, kidneys and blood vessels. (They are all put under tremendous pressure).

Those suffering from malignant hypertension may also complain of

    Confusional periods,
    Decreased urinary output
    Abnormal sensations to the arms, legs and other areas.
    Some visual disturbances.
    Change in their mental state
    Restlessness and anxiety
    Decreased alertness and ability to think and concentrate
    Extreme fatigue
    Chest pain
    Shortness of breath and cough

The prognosis of people suffering from malignant hypertension can be bleak, as the damage caused to the body is often life threatening especially to older people suffering from malignant hypertension.

Any treatment given to a person suffering with malignant hypertension, should be given carefully as a sudden decrease in the blood pressure from very high levels can be just as dangerous as a blood pressure kept at a consistently high level. Malignant blood pressure should be decreased (if possible) gradually over a period of at least a week with very carefully prescribed anti hypertensive drugs. Complete bed rest is also often prescribed to ensure complete rest is taken.

If it is treated promptly, malignant hypertension can be controlled without any further complications. However the person suffering with malignant hypertension should be monitored very carefully.