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What Is Malignant Hypertension: Causes, Symptoms, Prevention

Posted on March 10, 2016 in Health

images (36)High blood pressure or more commonly known as hypertension is an incredibly common condition that is known to affect as many as one in three Americans each year. Hypertension can easily be diagnosed simply by checking if your BP is above 120 systolic or 80 diastolic. Hypertension is often easily managed, as long as you make an effort to follow the advice from your family’s doctor’s. Although not as common as hypertension, some individuals with high blood pressure may suddenly experience a sudden increase in BP that is recorded above 180 systolic or 120 diastolic. This sudden increase in BP is known as malignant hypertension. This particular condition may also be referred to as arteriolar nephrosclerosis. If an individual suffers from the condition, it’s advised that they seek immediate medical attention. If emergency treatment is not received, the individual runs the risk of developing much more serious health problems, as a result, such as kidney failure, heart attack or even brain damage.

What is known to cause malignant hypertension?

Throughout many individuals, high blood pressure is known to be one of the primary causes. If these individuals also rely on some form of BP medication, missing a dose can also cause the condition to occur. Malignant hypertension is mostly discovered in patients who possess some form of history of high blood pressure. According to the official National Institutes of Health, approximately one percent of individuals who suffer from high blood pressure will eventually begin to develop malignant hypertension. Furthermore, there are also certain medical conditions that are also responsible for malignant hypertension. Some health conditions can significantly increase an individual’s chances of developing malignant hypertension such as:

– Forgetting or not taking medication for treating high blood pressure.

– Narrowing of the main blood vessel from the heart, aorta, or aortic dissection (a form of bleeding from the wall of the aorta).

– Narrowing of the arteries found in the kidneys (known as renal stenosis).

– A result of a spinal cord injury causing over-activity in parts of a patient’s nervous system.

– Autoimmune diseases (antibodies produced in a patient’s body to fight against its own tissues).

– Preeclampsia and pregnancy.

– Drug use such as anti-depressants, oral contraceptives, amphetamines and even cocaine.

– Kidney failure or disorders.

Who is at risk for developing malignant hypertension?

Approximately 1% of individual’s who have some form of history related to high blood pressure will develop this life-threatening condition. Studies have shown that you may be at greater risk of developing this disease if you are male or African-American origin. Unlike high blood pressure, the serious condition that is malignant hypertension is capable of producing very noticeable symptoms, some of which include:

– Reduced level of urination.

– Frequent headaches.

– Shortness of breath.

– Weakness or a level of numbness in the face, legs or arms.

– Vomiting and nausea.

– Increased level of anxiety.

– Frequent coughing.

– Regular chest pains.

– Changes in vision such as blurred vision.

Malignant hypertension can also lead to another condition which is referred to as hypertensive encephalopathy. Symptoms of this condition can include:

– Seizures.

– Lack of energy.

– Increased level of confusion.

– Blurred vision.

– Headaches.

This variety of symptoms may not be caused specifically by malignant hypertension, however, they may be linked to a variety of less serious health conditions. Nevertheless, this disease is incredibly serious and life threatening, which means if you experience any form of symptoms related to this condition you should seek immediate emergency treatment. Your family doctor will also be capable of providing you with a wide variety of information and important advice surrounding the condition. Hypertension, is known to really take its toll on our kidneys. It can make it exceptionally difficult for our kidneys to filter out toxins and unnecessary waste from our blood. Which is why malignant hypertension is one of the leading causes of kidney failure. Malignant hypertension is also capable of causing your kidneys to eventually and suddenly stop working altogether.

I have been diagnosed with malignant hypertension, what should I expect?

In the past decades malignant hypertension was known to be a fatal condition. Nevertheless, through modern medicine and the latest techniques, treatment is readily available for successfully treating this condition. Nevertheless, it’s known that during treatment of malignant hypertension, kidney function may become worse or decrease significantly. However, kidney function will often improve throughout the duration of the treatment as the condition is resolved, although this cannot always be guaranteed if the kidneys have received severe levels of damage prior to treatment. Typically a patient will begin to see forms of improvement within a week to 4 weeks respectively, even after receiving dialysis. Approximately 1 in 5 individuals who have suffered from the malignant hypertension condition will ultimately require long-term dialysis. Some individuals may experience some form of permanent damage to the eyes or brain.

How is the malignant hypertension condition treated?

Malignant hypertension is a serious medical emergency that requires sufficient levels of treatment in a hospital, which usually involves some form of intensive care unit. Individuals diagnosed with the condition will receive advice from a doctor who will be able to consider their symptoms and health upon deciding what form of medical treatment is the best solution for their personal case. The result of the treatment should be to carefully and steadily lower the patient’s BP. BP medication is received through an IV which is one of the quickest methods in order to treat extremely high levels of BP. Once the patient’s BP returns to an acceptable and safe level, the medications received via the IV will often be switched to a form of oral medication. If the patient develops kidney failure throughout their condition, they may need to receive kidney dialysis.

How can I prevent malignant hypertension?

Thankfully, some forms of malignant hypertension can easily be prevented. If you are known to have a high blood pressure, it’s essential that you receive regular BP checks with your doctor to make sure it’s safe and not increasing. If you have high blood pressure, you will no doubt be provided with a form of medication, which must be taken as instructed without missing any doses. Always remember to take your medication and follow the advice given by your doctor. Other ways that you can help to keep your BP down can be:

– Limit salt intake.

– Lose weight.

– Reduce stress levels.

– Change your diet to include more fresh fruit and vegetables.

– Reduce alcohol intake.

– Quit smoking.

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