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Hypertensive Emergency? Here is what you need to know

Elevated blood pressure (hypertension) is a common chronic condition, often treated in an urgent care setting. Identifying high blood pressure is important to avoid a hypertensive emergency, which can result in organ damage. 

Hypertension vs. hypertensive emergency - what is the difference?

Hypertension is when you have blood pressure of over 140/90 that is sustained for some time. It is common, affecting approximately 40% of emergency room patients in the United States every year. If not managed appropriately, hypertension can turn into a hypertensive emergency. 

A hypertensive emergency is less common than hypertension. A hypertensive crisis can result in organ failure and death. Usually, it is when you have blood pressure of over 180/120, plus evidence of end-stage organ damage. Evaluation and treatment are critical to prevent progression of the condition.  

The most common organs affected in a hypertensive emergency include the brain, heart, and kidneys. Common conditions resulting from a hypertensive crisis include stroke, heart failure, pulmonary edema, and acute kidney injury.

A hypertensive emergency must be treated in an urgent care or emergency room setting. It is best not to wait if you are concerned or have symptoms of a hypertensive crisis. Seek medical care immediately. 

What to expect for treatment of a hypertensive emergency

It is essential to monitor your blood pressure at home if you have hypertension. If your blood pressure increases significantly over your baseline, you have a blood pressure over 180/120, or have any concern organs may be affected, you must have your blood pressure verified by a health professional. 

Frequent blood pressure checks will likely be required. The team will look for a correlation between symptoms and blood pressure. 

Physicians will perform a physical examination. The physician will likely perform a neurological exam, assess heart and lung sounds, perform a head to toe physical, and discuss symptom history. The examination will give a picture of overall functioning within the body.

Labs and images are often ordered if a hypertensive emergency is suspected. Specific tests may be requested to target the organs that may be affected. These may include:

  • Electrocardiogram to evaluate heart function
  • Chest radiography if pulmonary edema is suspected
  • Blood work to test kidney functioning and to rule out infection
  • Urinalysis to test kidney functioning
  • Head CT to rule out brain swelling
  • Chest CT to rule out pulmonary edema or heart failure
  • Renal ultrasound to look for kidney damage

Physicians will administer medications to correct a hypertensive emergency. The goal is to restore blood pressure in a controlled way, so it does not drop too quickly. Proper correction of blood pressure can prevent or reverse end-organ damage, so treatment as soon as possible is best. 

How we can help at the Urgent Care of The Palm Beaches

Urgent Care of The Palm Beaches offers comprehensive care plans for people diagnosed with hypertension. Whether it is a one-time occurrence related to pain or illness, or a chronic condition needing maintenance care management, our physicians can provide you with the care you need regularly. 

virtual-visit-urgent-care-palm-beach-county-1024x1024 Hypertensive Emergency? Here is what you need to know

We are also offering telemedicine urgent care so you may meet with a physician from the comfort of your home. Telemedicine is a convenient and option for many managing chronic illnesses such as hypertension. 

Urgent care of The Palm Beaches has three locations open seven days a week:

Our physicians can perform a comprehensive exam, order necessary tests, treat hypertensive conditions appropriate for urgent care settings, and refer to a higher level of care if deemed necessary. 

Both telemedicine and walk-in visits are being offered. If looking for “COVID-19 testing in Palm Beach County”, this may also be completed at any one of our three locations. 

If you have any questions about hypertension, hypertensive emergency, COVID-19, or any other medical condition, please contact our clinic. We are happy to answer questions and assist with the treatment of hypertension as well as many other health concerns.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. FastStats: Emergency Department Visits. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/emergency-department.htm

Juhasz, J. (2020). Managing hypertensive emergencies in the urgent care setting. Retrieved from https://www.jucm.com/managing-hypertensive-emergencies-in-the-urgent-care-setting/

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.

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11951 US Highway 1 Suite 108,
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