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Did your doctor misdiagnose posterior reversible encephalopathy?

There's a unique condition called posterior reversible encephalopathy (PRES Syndrome) that can develop in patients with high blood pressure.

It has some specific symptoms that patients and doctors can be on guard for -- but the symptoms are often missed until irreversible damage is done to the vision or neurological system.

What exactly is PRES syndrome?

PRES syndrome is a neurological condition that results from the inability of the brain to properly regulate blood flow as a result of acute changes in blood pressure. A patient's blood pressure suddenly spikes, causing a variety of symptoms -- some of which may become permanent if the underlying cause of the problem isn't detected and treated.

Hypertension is the cause of the disorder in 75 percent of patients. The rest may suffer from an inability to regulate the vasodilation and vasoconstriction of blood vessels in the brain.

What are some of the symptoms of PRES syndrome?

The symptoms strike quickly and include headaches, seizures-like activity, visual disturbances (especially a loss of peripheral vision), and a disturbed mental state. The patient may be argumentative or confused. Almost half of the victims of PRES also have systemic lupus erythematosus. It's important to note that the symptoms may come and go since they can be triggered by acute hypertension.

What needs to happen in order to get the PRES victim back to normal?

Two things have to be balanced: a need for quick treatment with the need for accuracy. Without accurate treatment, the patient could suffer additional harm. Without quick treatment, the patient could suffer permanent brain damage.

That means that doctors should not just stop treatment if the symptoms stop -- they need to investigate the underlying cause of the symptoms and see if PRES could be the problem. Radiation scanning can usually identify PRES if the scans are done quickly enough.

If you or a loved one suffered permanent brain damage or vision loss because symptoms of PRES were ignored, especially if they coincided with attacks of acute hypertension, consider making an appointment with an attorney to discuss the possibility of a case.

Source: radiopaedia.org, "Posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome," A.Prof Frank Gaillard et al., accessed April 21, 2017

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