Differentiating malignant hypertension-induced thrombotic microangiopathy from thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura

Nabin Khanal, Smrity Upadhyay, Sumit Dahal, Vijaya Raj Bhatt, Philip J. Bierman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Malignant hypertension can cause thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA) and the overall presentation may mimic thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP). This presents a dilemma of whether or not to initiate plasma exchange. The objective of the study was to determine the clinical and laboratory manifestations of malignant hypertension-induced TMA, and its outcomes. Methods: Using several search terms, we reviewed English language articles on malignant hypertension-induced TMA, indexed in MEDLINE by 31 December 2013. We also report a new case. All these cases were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Results: A total of 19 patients, with 10 males, had a median age of 38 years at diagnosis; 58% had a history of hypertension. Mean arterial pressure at presentation was 159mmHg (range 123-190mmHg). All had prominent renal dysfunction (mean creatinine of 5.2mg/dl, range 1.7-13mg/dl) but relatively modest thrombocytopenia (mean platelet count of 60-103/Al, range 12-131-103/Al). Reported cases (n=9) mostly had preserved ADAMTS-13 activity (mean 64%, range 18-96%). Following blood pressure control, the majority had improvement in presenting symptoms (100%) and platelet counts (84%); however, only 58% had significant improvement in creatinine. More than half (53%) needed hemodialysis. One patient died of cardiac arrest during pacemaker insertion. Prior history of hypertension, high mean arterial pressure, significant renal impairment but relatively modest thrombocytopenia and lack of severe ADAMTS-13 deficiency (activity <10%) at diagnosis are clues to diagnose malignant hypertension-induced TMA. Patients with malignant hypertension respond well to antihypertensive agents and have favorable nonrenal outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-102
Number of pages6
JournalTherapeutic Advances in Hematology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2015


  • ADAMTS-13 deficiency
  • malignant hypertension
  • plasma exchange
  • renal failure
  • thrombocytopenia
  • thrombotic microangiopathy
  • thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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