Hypertension or high blood pressure is a common lifestyle disorder, it affects 1 in every 3 Indian adults. It is one of the key risk factors for heart disease-related mortality. High blood pressure is diagnosed if one or both of the systolic blood pressure is consistently over 130 mm Hg or diastolic blood pressure is consistently over 80 mm Hg. Hypertension can be effectively managed and treated. Some people with hypertension may have a sudden and rapid rise in blood pressure above 180/120 mm Hg, this condition is known as accelerated or malignant hypertension. If left untreated, poses a risk of serious damage to vital organs and tissues.
It is not clear why accelerated hypertension occurs in a few people with hypertension, but not in others. The symptoms of accelerated hypertension develop suddenly and signify a medical emergency. Serious organ damage can lead to stroke, kidney failure blindness, or coma and may be life-threatening. However, accelerated hypertension can be effectively treated once diagnosed with antihypertensive medications.
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Accelerated hypertension may cause a striking increase in blood pressure and it does not present with any other symptoms in the initial stage. Some of the common symptoms include:
Blurred or double vision
Buzzing sound in the ear
Confusion for a brief moment
Loss of vision
Nausea and vomiting
Serious symptoms that may signify a life-threatening situation and need immediate medical care include:
Blurred or double vision
Tightness in the chest
Reduced urine output
Accelerated hypertension mostly develop in people with a history of high blood pressure (above 140/90 mm Hg). It is quite common among chronic smokers. Some of the health disorders that may increase your risk of accelerated hypertension include:
Spinal cord damage, where part of the nervous system become overactive
Narrowing of the aorta
Not taking regular hypertensive medications
The physician will assess the patient’s complete medical history, including the current treatment plan for high blood pressure. Blood pressure is monitored regularly and also the physician may examine for any changes in vision, chest pain or shortness of breath. This will help the health care provider to determine whether or not emergency treatment is required.
Certain blood works are also suggested to determine if the condition is causing any organ damage such as blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine levels are done to find out if the kidneys are functioning normally.
Some of the other test recommended by the doctor include:
Troponin test to check for a heart attack
Urine function test
CT or MRI scan of the brain to check for stroke or any bleeding in the brain
Accelerated hypertension is a life-threatening disorder that need prompt medical care in order to lower blood pressure and avoid serious complications. Treatment includes antihypertensive drugs administered through an IV to bring down high blood pressure. As soon as blood pressure stabilizes, the doctor may prescribe oral blood pressure medications to control blood pressure at home. Regular follow-ups with the health care provider is also needed to monitor blood pressure, while continuing medications regularly is vital to manage the condition.
Some of the preventive measures that may help a person manage accelerated hypertension include:
- Adopting a healthy eating habits to control blood pressure. Follow DASH diet (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) that includes eating fruits, vegetables, low-fat milk products, potassium-rich foods and whole grains
- Limit salt intake-including processed, preserved, deep-fried and junk foods
- Staying well hydrated
- Exercising for 30 minutes a day
- Limiting alcohol consumption
- Maintaining ideal body weight
- Quitting smoking
- Monitoring blood pressure at home