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Hypertensive encephalopathy.

Q My sister was hospitalized recently with hypertensive encephalopathy. What causes this condition, and what is her long-term prognosis?

A Hypertensive encephalopathy is a swelling of the brain caused by a sudden, severe, and persistent elevation of blood pressure in individuals who have uncontrolled high blood pressure. It is a dangerous condition requiring immediate medical care. Symptoms include restlessness, headache, seizures, nausea, visual changes, confusion, and--if not treated promptly--can end in coma or even death. Fortunately, hypertensive encephalopathy occurs only in people with uncontrolled hypertension and is relatively rare. It can be treated by the prompt administration of medications that lower blood pressure, and its effects are completely reversible in most patients. Your sister probably experienced a dramatic elevation of her normally high blood pressure levels about 12 to 48 hours before her symptoms became severe. Experts believe this excessive hypertension likely interferes with normal cerebral blood flow and triggers dilation of the blood vessels, leading to leakage of fluid into brain tissue and swelling of the brain. If your sister works closely with her medical care provider in the future to properly manage her hypertension, this type of acute hypertensive emergency is unlikely to recur.

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Title Annotation:ASK THE DOCTOR
Publication:Mind, Mood & Memory
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2013
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