Hypertension, or high blood pressure can damage your body unnoticed for years before you ever see any symptoms. If untreated, you could end up with a disability, a quality of life that is poor or a fatal heart attack. With lifestyle changes and treatment, however, you can take control of your high blood pressure to lower your risk of these complications that are life-threatening.
Arteries which are healthy are strong, flexible and elastic. The lining on the inside is smooth, allowing blood to flow freely and supplying vital tissues and organs with the right amount of oxygen and nutrients. With high blood pressure, the increased pressure from blood flowing through can cause several problems, including:
- Narrowing and damage of artery. The cells of your arteries’ inner lining can be damaged by high blood pressure. This can cause a bunch of events which make the artery walls stiff and thick, which is known as arteriosclerosis, or the arteries becoming hardened.
- Aneurysm. The constant pressure of blood moving in a wakened artery over time can make a section of the wall enlarge and make a bulge or aneurysm. This can possibly rupture and cause internal bleeding that is life-threatening.
Your heart supplies blood to your whole body. High blood pressure which is uncontrolled can damage your heart in several ways:
- Coronary artery disease. This affects your arteries which supply blood for your heart muscle. Arteries are narrows and won’t let blood flow freely through, causing you to experience a heart attack, chest pain or irregular heart rhythms.
- Left heart enlarged. Your heart has to work harder to get blood to the rest of your body due to high blood pressure. Because of this the left ventricle stiffens or thickens and limits its ability to pump blood.
- Heart failure. High blood pressure causes a strain on your heart, and over time your heart muscle will weaken and work less efficiently. It will eventually start to wear out and fail.
Your brain, like your heart, depends upon a supply of nourishing blood to survive and work properly. However, high blood pressure can cause many problems:
- Transient ischemic attack. Sometimes known as a mini stroke, this is a temporary and brief disruption of blood supply to your brain, often caused by a blood clot or atherosclerosis.
- Stroke. This happens when oxygen and nutrients are deprived to part of your brain, causing the death of brain cells.
- Dementia. A brain disease that results in problems with peaking, thinking, memory, reasoning, movement and vision.
- Mild cognitive impairment. A transition stage between memory and understanding which comes with ageing and the more serious issues from Alzheimer’s disease.
High blood pressure can also cause several problems with your kidneys such as kidney failure, kidney scarring and kidney aneurysms. Your eyes can sustain damage as well, including damage to the eye blood vessel, a fluid buildup under the retina and nerve damage. High blood pressure also causes problems with sexual dysfunction, bone loss and trouble with sleeping.
With all of the above problems that high blood pressure can cause, it is a very dangerous condition that needs to be monitored by you and your doctor and brought back down to a safe number.