COVID-19: What you need to know
Brain tumor, breast cancer, colon cancer, congenital heart disease, heart arrhythmia. See more conditions.
Mayo Clinic offers appointments in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota and at Mayo Clinic Health System locations.
Subscribe to Housecall
Our general interest e-newsletter keeps you up to date on a wide variety of health topics.
A hypertensive crisis is a severe increase in blood pressure that can lead to a stroke. Extremely high blood pressure — a top number (systolic pressure) of 180 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or higher or a bottom number (diastolic pressure) of 120 mm Hg or higher — can damage blood vessels. The blood vessels become inflamed and may leak fluid or blood. As a result, the heart may not be able to pump blood effectively.
Causes of a hypertensive emergency include:
A hypertensive crisis is divided into two categories: urgent and emergency. In an urgent hypertensive crisis, your blood pressure is extremely high, but your doctor doesn't suspect you have any damage to your organs.
In an emergency hypertensive crisis, your blood pressure is extremely high and has caused damage to your organs. An emergency hypertensive crisis can be associated with life-threatening complications.
Signs and symptoms of a hypertensive crisis that may be life-threatening may include:
If you experience a severe increase in your blood pressure, seek immediate medical attention. Treatment for hypertensive crisis may include hospitalization for treatment with oral or intravenous medications.
Sheldon G. Sheps, M.D.
Mayo Clinic does not endorse companies or products. Advertising revenue supports our not-for-profit mission.
Check out these best-sellers and special offers on books and newsletters from Mayo Clinic.
Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization and proceeds from Web advertising help support our mission. Mayo Clinic does not endorse any of the third party products and services advertised.
A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.org," "Mayo Clinic Healthy Living," and the triple-shield Mayo Clinic logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.