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Hypertensive Crisis

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 31, 2022.

A hypertensive crisis is a sudden spike in blood pressure to 180/120 or higher. A normal blood pressure is 119/79 or lower. A hypertensive crisis is also known as acute hypertension. This is a medical emergency that could lead to organ damage or be life-threatening.

Blood Pressure Readings


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.


  • Blood pressure medicine is given to bring down your blood pressure. There are many different types of blood pressure medicine, and you may need more than one type.
  • Diuretics help decrease extra fluid that collects in your blood vessels. This lowers your blood pressure by reducing pressure in your arteries. Diuretics are often called water pills. You may urinate more often while you take this medicine.


  • Your blood pressure will be monitored on your arm or through a catheter placed into an artery. The catheter allows for nonstop monitoring when your blood pressure is very high or low.
  • Telemetry is the use of EKG to continuously monitor your heart. Sticky pads placed on your skin record your heart's electrical activity.


  • Blood or urine tests are done to find out if your liver and kidneys are functioning properly. High blood pressure can damage your kidneys.
  • An EKG is used to monitor your heart. Sticky pads placed on your skin record your heart's electrical activity.
  • X-ray or CT pictures may show signs of a stroke, heart failure, or fluid around your heart and lungs. You may be given contrast liquid before a CT scan to help healthcare providers see the pictures better. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.


You may need treatment for other health conditions that caused your hypertensive crisis.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.


Even with treatment, you are at risk for a heart attack, stroke, or kidney damage. You could develop a bulge or tear in the wall of your aorta (the artery that supplies blood throughout your body). Fluid could collect in your lungs and make it hard for you to breathe. You are at risk for blindness, eye damage, and seizures, as well as brain damage.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.