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  • Hypertension is one of the most common medical conditions around the world. It is an important public health problem, with high mortality and morbidity. This article focuses specifically on malignant hypertension, which seemingly comes out of nowhere.

    Background Physiology

    Blood pressure control, even in a healthy individual, is a complicated process, because it results from a combination of cardiac output and peripheral vascular resistance (PVR), each of which can be influenced by a variety of factors.

    Definition

    Malignant hypertension is a sudden rise in high blood pressure, evolving with few or no warning signs.

    Symptoms

    Symptoms of malignant hypertension include: numbness, which can occur throughout the body, but typically is in the extremities (arms and legs); vision problems, anxiety, confusion, sleepiness and fatigue. It can also cause chest pain, cough, problems in urination, nausea, vomiting, headache, weakness in arms and legs, and shortness of breath.

    Incidence of Malignant Hypertension

    While hypertension in general has a high incidence, meaning higher than 20 percent of the population, malignant hypertension is rare, accounting for only about 1 percent of hypertension cases.

    Causes

    The main cause of malignant hypertension is renal hypertension, a disturbance in kidney and adrenal gland hormones. This, in turn, is caused by stenosis (narrowing) of the renal arteries. Additionally, malignant hypertension can be cause by certain pregnancy disorders, such as eclampsia and pregnancy toxemia.

    Source:

    World Health Organization; Guidelines for the Management of Hypertension. Guidelines Subcommittee. J Hypertens; 1999

    Resource:

    Google Health: Malignant Hypertension

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