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Also called hypertension, high blood pressure is a condition that can cause damage to several areas of the body over a period of years. This is often the case before you notice any symptoms, and it can lead to disease, poor quality of life and even heart attack in some cases. About half of all people with untreated hypertension die of heart disease related to poor blood flow, and another third die of stroke.
The right treatment and lifestyle choices can help control blood pressure and reduce your risk of major complications. Here are some of these complications, starting with the heart and arteries.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to several heart complications:
•Coronary artery disease (CAD): CAD narrows the arteries and hinders blood flow from freely moving through them. This can lead to chest pain, a heart attack or irregular heart rhythms.
•Enlarged left heart: The heart has to work harder in a person with high blood pressure, causing the left ventricle to thicken or stiffen. This makes the left ventricle less able to pump blood, leading to higher risk of heart attack, heart failure, and sudden heart death.
Healthy arteries are flexible and strong, and allow blood to flow freely. High blood pressure can cause a couple issues with the arteries:
•Damaged and narrowed arteries: High blood pressure can damage the inner lining, causing fats to collect in the damaged areas and limiting the elasticity of the walls.
The brain depends on blood for its functionality and survival. High blood pressure can cause a few issues:
The eyes are supplied with blood by minuscule blood vessels that are very delicate. These can also be damaged by hypertension in a few ways:
Erectile dysfunction becomes more common in men over the age of 50, and it’s even more likely with high blood pressure. Less blood is able to flow to the penis, and some men struggle to get or maintain an erection.
Women can have sexual dysfunction due to high blood pressure as well. It can reduce blood flow to the vagina, causing decreased sexual desire or arousal, vaginal dryness or difficulty achieving orgasm.
Other dangers of high blood pressure include:
•Osteoporosis: High blood pressure can increase calcium in the urine, which may lead to loss of bone density (osteoporosis). This risk is high for older women.
High blood pressure generally develops as a chronic condition over a period of years. In some cases, though, it can rise so quickly and severely that it creates an immediate medical emergency, often requiring hospitalization. In these cases, damage may include:
Memory loss, personality changes, issues concentrating, irritability or progressive loss of consciousness
Your doctor can offer further education and recommendations for the treatment of high blood pressure.
“High blood pressure (hypertension). The Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/in-depth/high-blood-pressure/art-20045868?pg=1
“High Blood Pressure.” American Heart Association. https://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/High-Blood-Pressure-or-Hypertension_UCM_002020_SubHomePage.jsp
The Live Better Team
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.