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Hypertensive urgencies and emergencies. Prevalence and clinical presentation.

Hypertension 1996 January
The prevalence and clinical picture of hypertensive urgencies and emergencies in an emergency department are poorly known. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the prevalence of hypertensive crises (urgencies and emergencies) in an emergency department during 12 months of observation and the frequency of end-organ damage with related clinical pictures during the first 24 hours after presentation. Hypertensive crises (76% urgencies, 24% emergencies) represented more than one fourth of all medical urgencies-emergencies. The most frequent signs of presentation were headache (22%), epistaxis (17%), faintness, and psychomotor agitation (10%) in hypertensive urgencies and chest pain (27%), dyspnea (22%), and neurological deficit (21%) in hypertensive emergencies. Types of end-organ damage associated with hypertensive emergencies included cerebral infarction (24%), acute pulmonary edema (23%), and hypertensive encephalopathy (16%) as well as cerebral hemorrhage, which accounted for only 4.5%. Age (67 +/- 16 versus 60 +/- 14 years [mean +/- SD], P < .001) and diastolic blood pressure (130 +/- 15 versus 126 +/- 10 mm Hg, P < .002) were higher in hypertensive emergencies than urgencies. Hypertension that was unknown at presentation was present in 8% of hypertensive emergencies and 28% of hypertensive urgencies. In conclusion hypertensive urgencies and emergencies are common events in the emergency department and differ in their clinical patterns of presentation. Cerebral infarction and acute pulmonary edema are the most frequent types of end-organ damage in hypertensive emergencies.

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