Poorly controlled hypertension is a common finding in the outpatient setting. When patients present with severely elevated blood pressure (i.e., systolic blood pressure of 180 mm Hg or greater, or diastolic blood pressure of 110 mm Hg or greater), physicians need to differentiate hypertensive emergency from severely elevated blood pressure without signs or symptoms of end-organ damage (severe asymptomatic hypertension). Most patients who are asymptomatic but have poorly controlled hypertension do not have acute end-organ damage and, therefore, do not require immediate workup or treatment (within 24 hours). However, physicians should confirm blood pressure readings and appropriately classify the hypertensive state. A cardiovascular risk profile is important in guiding the treatment of severe asymptomatic hypertension; higher risk patients may benefit from more urgent and aggressive evaluation and treatment. Oral agents may be initiated before discharge, but intravenous medications and fast-acting oral agents should be reserved for true hypertensive emergencies. High blood pressure should be treated gradually. Appropriate, repeated follow-up over weeks to months is needed to reach desired blood pressure goals.