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What Is Posterior Reversible Encephalopathy Syndrome?

Meshell Powell
Meshell Powell

Posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome is a medical condition that causes symptoms such as seizures, headaches, and vision loss. There are a variety of possible causes for this condition, including the use of certain medications, severe hypertension, and eclampsia. Treatment depends on the underlying cause and usually involves discontinuation of the medication causing the disorder or proper management of any other contributing factors. Any questions or concerns about posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome or the most appropriate treatment method for an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

The majority of posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome symptoms are caused by swelling in various areas of the brain. Depending on the extent of the swelling as well as the area of the brain that is affected, headaches or vision loss may occur. Seizure disorders may develop, occasionally leading to a potentially fatal type of seizure known as status epilepticus. Varying degrees of mental confusion may come and go with this disorder as well.


Medication side effects are believed to be the most common cause of posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome. Immunosuppressant drugs, used primarily for patients who have undergone organ transplant surgery, are the most likely drugs to cause this condition. Symptoms of this disorder usually disappear once the medication is discontinued. Frequent diagnostic tests may be performed on those taking these medications so that any potential complications can be addressed as early as possible.

Severe high blood pressure, medically referred to as hypertension, may lead to the development of posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome, especially if undiagnosed or untreated for prolonged periods of time. Proper management of blood pressure levels through diet, exercise, and the use of prescription medications can often eliminate the symptoms associated with this condition. Low levels of magnesium or high levels of calcium in the blood may also contribute to the development of this syndrome.

Eclampsia, a potentially serious complication of pregnancy, is another potential cause of posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome. A pregnant woman who has a history of high blood pressure, kidney disease, or diabetes may have a greater risk of developing eclampsia. Frequently reported symptoms of eclampsia include high blood pressure, headaches, and swelling of the hands and face. Some women may develop more serious complications, such as seizures, kidney failure, or even death. The only true cure for this condition is delivery of the baby, although medications may be given in an attempt to manage the symptoms until the pregnancy has progressed far enough along for the baby to be safely delivered.

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