High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can increase your risk of serious health conditions, including heart attack and stroke. Many people may be unaware they have a blood pressure problem until measured by a doctor, as often there are not any noticeable symptoms. Everyone’s blood pressure will rise and fall with their daily activities as a certain degree of pressure is required to move blood around the body. The problems come if you experience a period of persistent elevated high blood pressure. The causes of this are varied, but lifestyle, diet, and underlying medical conditions can have an impact.
High blood pressure is one of the most significant risk factors for someone having a stroke. The arteries should be elastic in nature, able to stretch with a smooth inner lining which lets the blood move freely around the body. Persistent hypertension places extra strain on the body, with the heart having to work harder to pump more. Within the arteries, this can see a stiffening of the inner lining, making them narrower and prone to clogging. It can lead to a clot forming in the bloodstream, which travels to the brain and results in a stroke. Hypertension can also cause an aneurysm in an artery where a bulge forms in part of the artery wall. If an aneurysm bursts, it can lead to dangerous internal bleeding, and if an aneurysm that feeds the brain bursts, it can result in a stroke.
As the arteries become damaged and clogged up due to hypertension, it interferes with blood flow to the heart. This eventually leads to coronary heart disease, a leading cause of a heart attack. It is the interruption of blood flow which leads to a lack of nutrients and oxygen reaching areas of the heart muscle. A heart attack is a result of the damage to this muscle. As persistent hypertension sees your heart having to pump harder, it can lead to the left ventricle becoming thicker, which also increases the risk of a cardiac arrest.
Other Organ Damage
The damage caused to arteries around the body can lead to further serious health consequences. Damaged arteries deny the level of blood the kidneys require to function correctly and filter the blood, or to regulate other fluids and hormones. As more arteries become blocked through hypertension, this can eventually end in kidney failure.
Your vision is another area that high blood pressure can negatively impact. Again, damaged arteries can lead to a reduced flow of blood to the eyes, resulting in blurred vision or even total loss of sight. Your vision can also be impaired by a hypertension-induced stroke, which can damage the part of the brain required to process the images from the eyes.
A further health issue associated with hypertension is peripheral arterial disease. Narrowing arteries in the legs from a build-up of fatty deposits, such as cholesterol, means there is less blood flowing to the limbs. Such poor blood circulation can lead to painful cramps, and over a longer period, your feet may feel colder than the rest of the body.
Lifestyle changes are often recommended to reduce high blood pressure. This includes exercise and a healthier low-fat diet involving more fruit, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and less salt. Quitting smoking and reducing alcohol consumption will also be necessary. Such lifestyle changes also have the benefit of improving your health overall. Besides a healthier lifestyle, most people with hypertension will be taking medication to address the problem. Your doctor will work with you to provide you with the medication best suited to treat the condition. By reducing your blood pressure, you can reduce your risk of a number of serious and life-threatening health conditions and help yourself to feel fitter and healthier all round.