HBP is Dangerous!

High Blood Pressure can cause:

Heart Attack

High blood pressure increases the risk of coronary artery disease (also called atherosclerosis).

Coronary artery disease is the buildup of plaque or fatty matter in the walls of the coronary arteries; this buildup leads to narrowing of the arteries over time. The narrowed artery limits or blocks the flow of blood to the heart muscle. The hardened surface of the artery can also encourage the formation of small blood clots.

People with high blood pressure are more likely to develop coronary artery disease because high blood pressure puts added force against the artery walls. Over time, this extra pressure can damage the arteries. These injured arteries are more likely to become narrowed and hardened by fatty deposits.

Damaged arteries cannot deliver enough oxygen to other parts of the body. For this reason, high blood pressure can harm the brain and kidneys. High blood pressure also increases the risk for stroke, congestive heart failure, kidney disease, and blindness.

Stroke

A stroke, sometimes called a “brain attack,” occurs when blood flow to an area in the brain is cut off. As a result, the brain cells, deprived of the oxygen and glucose needed to survive, die. If not caught early, permanent brain damage can result.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases a person’s stroke risk by four to six times. Over time, hypertension leads to plaque buildup and hardening of large arteries. This can lead to blockage of small blood vessels in the brain. High blood pressure can also lead to weakening of the blood vessels in the brain, causing them to balloon and burst. The risk of stroke is directly related to how high the blood pressure is.

Heart Disease

High blood pressure can also cause ischemic heart disease. This means that the heart muscle isn’t getting enough blood. Ischemic heart disease is usually the result of atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries (coronary artery disease), which impedes blood flow to the heart. Symptoms of ischemic heart disease may include:

  • Chest pain which may radiate (travel) to the arms, back, neck, or jaw
  • Chest pain with nausea, sweating, shortness of breath, and dizziness
  • Irregular pulse
  • Fatigue and weakness

Any of these symptoms of ischemic heart disease warrant immediate medical evaluation.

Heart Failure

High blood pressure brings on heart failure by causing left ventricular hypertophy, a thickening of the heart muscle that results in less effective muscle relaxation between heart beats. This makes it difficult for the heart to fill with enough blood to supply the body’s organs, especially during exercise, leading your body to hold onto fluids and your heart rate to increase. Symptoms of heart failure include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling in the feet, ankles, or abdomen
  • Difficulty sleeping flat in bed
  • Bloating
  • Irregular pulse
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Greater need to urinate at night

Any of these symptoms of ischemic heart disease warrant immediate medical evaluation.

Aortic Tears

High blood pressure can cause tears in the walls of the aorta, the major artery carrying blood out of the heart. These tears can lead to bleeding into and along the wall of the aorta.

When it leaves the heart, the aorta first moves up through the chest toward the head (the ascending aorta). It then bends or arches, and finally moves down through the chest and abdomen (the descending aorta).

Aortic dissection most often happens because of a tear or damage to the inner wall of the aorta. This usually occurs in the chest (thoracic) part of the artery, but it may also occur in the abdominal part.

Erectile Dysfunction

High blood pressure keeps the arteries that carry blood into the penis from working the way they’re supposed to. It also makes the smooth muscle in the penis lose its ability to relax. As a result, not enough blood flows into the penis to make it erect.

High blood pressure by itself can lead to erectile dysfunction. But some drugs for treating high blood pressure can actually be the cause as well.

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