CE: Hypertensive Emergencies: A Review

Kartavya Sharma, Essie P. Mathews, Faith Newton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


ABSTRACT: While acute blood pressure elevations are commonly seen in the ED, not all require emergency treatment. True hypertensive emergencies are characterized by a rapid elevation in blood pressure to a level above 180/120 mmHg and are associated with acute target organ damage, which requires immediate hospitalization for close hemodynamic monitoring and IV pharmacotherapy. Recognizing the clinical signs and symptoms of hypertensive emergency, which may vary widely depending on the target organ involved, is critical. High blood pressure levels that produce no signs or symptoms of target organ damage may be treated without hospitalization through an increase in or reestablishment of previously prescribed oral antihypertensive medication. However, all patients presenting with blood pressure this high should undergo evaluation to confirm or rule out impending target organ damage, which differentiates hypertensive emergency from other hypertensive crises and is vital in facilitating appropriate emergency treatment. Drug therapy for hypertensive emergency is influenced by end-organ involvement, pharmacokinetics, potential adverse drug effects, and patient comorbidities. Frequent nursing intervention and close monitoring are crucial to recuperation. Here, the authors define the spectrum of uncontrolled hypertension; discuss the importance of distinguishing hypertensive emergencies from hypertensive urgencies; and describe the pathophysiology, clinical manifestations, and management of hypertensive emergencies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-35
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Nursing
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)


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