UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Vascular

Title: Hypertensive Encephalopathy

Keywords: Hypertension, Encephalopathy (PubMed Search)

Posted: 9/17/2007 by Rob Rogers, MD (Updated: 11/19/2019)
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Hypertensive encephalopathy is a condition in which cerebral blood flow and autoregulation are altered in the setting of very high blood pressure. Although there is no evidence-based cutoff for what BP value defines this condition, most people will have a diastolic above 120 mm Hg or so. In many cases, you may not be able to make the diagnosis until BP is reduced and other conditions have been ruled out (meningitis, etc.) Patients with this condition may have: 1. altered mental status of any sort 2. seizures 3. stroke-ischemic or hemorrhagic Pearls: 1. Avoid hydralazine-will bottom some peoples' BP out 2. Forget oral meds-unreliable and may lead to "stacking" and eventual abrupt decline in BP 3. Aim for a 25% reduction in MAP over 2-3 hours....then stop reducing the BP! 4. Early signs of this condition may be subtle (mild confusion, somnolence, seizure)