A hypertensive crisis occurs when a person's blood pressure becomes dangerously high. This medical emergency can damage organs and blood vessels, and if not treated promptly, the individual is at high risk of having a stroke. The heart may also be unable to supply the body adequately with blood. The term covers two situations: hypertensive urgency and hypertensive emergency. Both conditions require medical care to bring the person's blood pressure back under control.
During hypertensive urgency, blood pressure exceeds 180/120. This is less serious than a hypertensive emergency because in a case of hypertensive urgency no damage has yet been done to the organs or blood vessels. During an episode of hypertensive urgency, doctors work to reduce the blood pressure safely using medication. This usually takes a few hours and prevents the condition from progressing to a hypertensive emergency.
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