JOURNAL ARTICLE

Severe Asymptomatic Hypertension: Evaluation and Treatment

Robert Gauer
American Family Physician 2017 April 15, 95 (8): 492-500
28409616
Hypertension affects one-third of Americans and is a significant modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease, stroke, renal disease, and death. Severe asymptomatic hypertension is defined as severely elevated blood pressure (180 mm Hg or more systolic, or 110 mm Hg or more diastolic) without symptoms of acute target organ injury. The short-term risks of acute target organ injury and major adverse cardiovascular events are low in this population, whereas hypertensive emergencies manifest as acute target organ injury requiring immediate hospitalization. Individuals with severe asymptomatic hypertension often have preexisting poorly controlled hypertension and usually can be managed in the outpatient setting. Immediate diagnostic testing rarely alters short-term management, and blood pressure control is best achieved with initiation or adjustment of antihypertensive therapy. Aggressive lowering of blood pressure should be avoided, and the use of parenteral medications is not indicated. Current recommendations are to gradually reduce blood pressure over several days to weeks. Patients with escalating blood pressure, manifestation of acute target organ injury, or lack of compliance with treatment should be considered for hospital admission.

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