Hypertension in the Emergency Department

Curr Hypertens Rep. 2016 Apr;18(5):37. doi: 10.1007/s11906-016-0647-4.


Hypertension is the leading risk factor for the global burden of disease, yet more than 20% of adults with hypertension are unaware of their condition. Underlying hypertension affects over 25% emergency department attendees, and the condition is more commonly encountered in emergency departments than in primary care settings. Emergency departments are strategically well placed to fulfill the important public health goal of screening for hypertension, yet less than 30% of patients with mild to severe hypertension are referred for follow up. In predominantly African American populations, subclinical hypertensive disease is highly prevalent in ED attendees with asymptomatic elevated blood pressure. Although medical intervention is not usually required, in select patient populations, it may be beneficial for antihypertensive medications to be started or adjusted in the emergency department, aiming for optimizing blood pressure control earlier while waiting for continuing care.

Keywords: Emergency department; Hypertension; Hypertension diagnosis; Hypertension screening; Investigation for hypertension; Referral for hypertension.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Blood Pressure
  • Electrocardiography
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Humans
  • Hypertension* / drug therapy
  • Hypertension* / epidemiology
  • Hypertension* / physiopathology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors


  • Antihypertensive Agents