what is malignant hypertension

What Is Malignant Hypertension?

We normally hear the word malignant in association with cancer, but blood pressure? What is malignant hypertension?

Normal blood pressure is 120/80 or less, regardless of age.

140/90 and above gives you the diagnosis of high blood pressure. But when it gets REALLY high it gets a new name.

What Is Malignant Hypertension?

Hypertension is termed ‘malignant’ when it rapidly gets very, very high AND there is evidence of organ damage as a result.

The blood pressure rises quickly to artery bursting levels of 180/110 and over.

If there is no evidence of organ damage, blood pressure at this level is an urgent condition that needs prompt treatment by you GP and regulatory and timely review.

If organ damage is evident too it becomes a medical emergency requiring hospital admission on the same day. You’ll need urgent assessment and treatment to minimise further damage, and the chance of having a life-threatening event like a heart attack or brain haemorrhage.

The commonest organ damage in untreated malignant hypertension:

  • Brain – stroke or haemorrhage
  • Heart attack
  • Eyes – loss of sight due to a bleed in the eye
  • Kidney failure

How Does This Compare To ‘Normal High Blood Pressure’?

Obviously there is no such thing as normal high blood pressure!

Malignant hypertension is like ‘normal high blood pressure’ on fast forward. The consequences happen a lot quicker.

In fact – untreated over 90% of sufferers will be dead within a year. A sobering fact given the average age to onset is 40 years old. Even more sobering – even with treatment the 5 year survival rate is only 80%, meaning 20% of the average sufferer will be dead by 45 years old. (1)

That’s how deadly high blood pressure is.

Worryingly about 1% of people with Essential Hypertension will develop malignant hypertension at some point. .

Most people with high blood pressure have Essential Hypertension. It means ’cause unknown’ in medical terms, but in my opinion this is misleading. Once problems within the body have been ruled out as the cause – you only have to look at diet and lifestyle to find the cause.

But there are other causes of malignant hypertension which not related to diet and lifestyle.

Take Home Message

High blood pressure is a SERIOUS health issue.

What is malignant hypertension? Something that may kill you quickly if it’s not dealt with – work very closely with your doctor.

What about the much more common essential hypertension?

It’s the number one killer because it’s like malignant hypertension in slow motion. However, 1 in 100 people with it will develop the much more serious expression of the disease. People with essential hypertension can help themselves a lot more than just popping the pills – there is so much you can do.

You can watch the first videos of Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally for FREE, just scroll down to the first lesson.

But I really can’t say it enough – TAKE YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE SERIOUSLY!!!!

Have a great week.

Dr Julie


(1) Lane DA, Lip GY, Beevers DG; Improving survival of malignant hypertension patients over 40 years. Am J Hypertens. 2009 Nov22(11):1199-204. doi: 10.1038/ajh.2009.153. Epub 2009 Aug 20.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top