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Evaluation and treatment of hypertensive crises in children.

Hypertensive crises in children are medical emergencies that must be identified, evaluated, and treated promptly and appropriately to prevent end-organ injury and even death. Treatment in the acute setting typically includes continuous intravenous antihypertensive medications with monitoring in the intensive care unit setting. Medications commonly used to treat severe hypertension have been poorly studied in children. Dosing guidelines are available, although few pediatric-specific trials have been conducted to facilitate evidence-based therapy. Regardless of what medication is used, blood pressure should be lowered gradually to allow for accommodation of autoregulatory mechanisms and to prevent cerebral ischemia. Determining the underlying cause of the blood pressure elevation may be helpful in guiding therapy.

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