QS Study

Malignant Hypertension

Chronic hypertension can enter a rapidly accelerated phase in which necrotic arteriolar lesions develop and there is a rapid downhill course with papilledema, cerebral symptoms, and progressive renal failure. This syndrome is known as Malignant Hypertension.

It is tremendously high blood pressure that develops quickly and causes some type of organ damage. Normal blood pressure is below 120/80. A person with malignant hypertension has a blood pressure that’s normally above 180/120. It should be treated as a medical emergency.

Causes include:

  • Collagen vascular disease, such as scleroderma
  • Kidney disease
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Tumor of the adrenal gland
  • Use of certain medications, including birth control pills and MAOIs
  • Use of illegal drugs, such as cocaine.


The main symptoms of malignant hypertension are a rapidly increasing blood pressure of 180/120 or higher and signs of organ damage. Usually, the damage happens to the kidneys or the eyes. Other symptoms include changes in vision, chest pain, nausea or vomiting, shortness of breath, headache, reduced urine output etc.


Appropriate Antihypertensive therapy.