A 53-year-old woman presents to the primary care clinic with complaints of severe headaches  palpitations high blood pressure and diaphoresis

A 53-year-old woman presents to the primary care clinic with complaints of severe headaches, palpitations, high blood pressure and diaphoresis. She relates that these symptoms come in clusters and when she has these “spells”, she also experiences, tremor, nausea, weakness, anxiety, and a sense of doom and dread, epigastric pain, and flank pain. She had one of these spells when she was at the pharmacy and the pharmacist took her blood pressure which was recorded as 200/118. The pharmacist recommended that she immediately be evaluated for these symptoms. Past medical history significant for a family history of neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1). Based on the presenting symptoms and family history of NF1, the APRN suspects the patient has a pheochromocytoma. Laboratory data and computerized tomography of the abdomen confirms the diagnosis.

Question 1 of 2:

What is a pheochromocytoma and how does it cause the classic symptoms the patient presented with?