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Ann Emerg Med. 2006 Mar;47(3):230-6. Epub 2006 Jan 18.

Evaluation and treatment of patients with severely elevated blood pressure in academic emergency departments: a multicenter study.

Author information

1
Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19140, USA. david.karras@temple.edu

Abstract

STUDY OBJECTIVE:

Current guidelines advise that emergency department (ED) patients with severely elevated blood pressure be evaluated for acute target organ damage, have their medical regimen adjusted, and be instructed to follow up promptly for reassessment. We examine factors associated with performance of recommended treatment of patients with severely elevated blood pressure.

METHODS:

Observational study performed during 1 week at 4 urban, academic EDs. Severely elevated blood pressure was defined as systolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 180 mm Hg or diastolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 110 mm Hg on at least 1 measurement. ED staff were blinded to the study purpose. Demographics, presenting complaints, vital signs, tests ordered, medications administered, disposition, and discharge instructions were recorded, and associations were tested in bivariate analyses.

RESULTS:

Severely elevated blood pressure was noted in 423 patients. Serum chemistry was obtained in 73% of patients, ECG in 53% of patients, chest radiograph in 46% of patients, urinalysis in 43% of patients, and funduscopy documented in 36% of patients. All studies were performed in 6% of patients and were associated with complaints of dyspnea (odds ratio [OR] 3.1; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.1 to 8.7) and chest pain (OR 3.0; 95% CI 1.2 to 7.6). Oral antihypertensives were administered to 36% of patients and were associated with blood pressure-related complaints (OR 2.0 [1.2 to 3.3]), patient-suspected severely elevated blood pressure (OR 5.6, 95% CI 2.0 to 15.3), and being uninsured (OR 2.0; 95% CI 1.2 to 3.3). Intravenous antihypertensives were given to 4% of patients, associated only with chest pain (OR 3.2; 95% CI 1.1 to 9.5). Modification of antihypertensive regimen was documented in 19% of discharged patients and associated with patient-suspected severely elevated blood pressure (OR 5.5; 95% CI 2.5 to 12.2) and being uninsured (OR 1.8; 95% CI 1.1 to 2.9).

CONCLUSION:

The majority of ED patients with severely elevated blood pressure do not receive the evaluation, medical regimen modification, and discharge instructions advised by current guidelines. Further study is necessary to determine whether these recommendations are appropriate in this setting.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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