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What is malignant hypertension?

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Quick Answer

Malignant hypertension is exceptionally high blood pressure that develops quickly and negatively affects the body’s organs, according to WebMD. Malignant hypertension is life-threatening and needs emergency medical treatment.

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Full Answer

Typical, healthy blood pressure is generally below 140/90, explains WebMD. An individual experiencing malignant hypertension generally has a blood pressure above 180/120. The primary cause of this condition is high blood pressure. One percent of individuals with high blood pressure develop the malignant hypertension.

Other causes of malignant hypertension include kidney disease, spinal cord injuries, collagen vascular disease, an adrenal gland tumor and certain medications, according to WebMD. Illegal drugs, such as cocaine, may also cause the condition.

An individual with malignant hypertension may experience nausea, a headache, shortness of breath, chest pain or blurred vision, explains MedlinePlus. Additional symptoms include coughing, numbness of the extremities, seizures, weakness and confusion.

Certain individuals are at greater risk for developing malignant hypertension. These include men, African-Americans, those with poor access to health care and those of lower economic status, according to WebMD. Overall, the condition is rare.

Malignant hypertension can cause serious health concerns, such as damage to various organs, explains MedlinePlus. It can damage the kidney’s blood vessels and lead to kidney failure. With proper immediate treatment, malignant hypertension may not cause any significant health problems; however, if the individual does not receive proper medical treatment immediately, the condition can cause very severe health problems and death.

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