High blood pressure – also known as hypertension – is a chronic disorder that affects the arteries and the heart. This condition forces the heart to work harder. This in turn, makes the heart weaker. As the heart weakens, it causes a myriad of health complications.
With every beat, the heart pushes blood throughout the body. Blood pressure refers to the amount of force within the arteries and veins. Blood pressure is expressed in two measurements: systolic and diastolic pressure. Systolic pressure measures the blood being pumped out the heart. Diastolic blood pressure measures between heartbeats.
Complications of High Blood Pressure
Too much pressure causes hardening or narrowing of the arteries. Healthy arteries should be pliant and flexible in order to withstand the pressure from the heart. Hypertension causes the inner lining of the arteries to harden. This condition is called arteriosclerosis. When the arteries are hardened, blood flow becomes slower. Eventually, arteriosclerosis leads to kidney failure, heart attack, blocked arteries, and eye damage.
Aneurysm is an often-fatal condition wherein a damaged artery bulges and ruptures. This condition causes internal bleeding, coma, artery damage and death.
Coronary Artery Disease
This condition affects the blood supply to the heart through the arteries. When the arteries become narrowed, blood won’t flow freely. When blood can no longer flow freely, it leads to irregular heart rhythms or arrhythmias, chest pain and heart attack.
Enlarged Left Ventricle
When there’s too much pressure, the heart works harder to circulate blood. Because the heart is a muscle, too much flexing will distort its shape. The left ventricle will start thickening and stiffening, causing left ventricular hypertrophy. When this occurs, the heart can no longer work as efficiently. Left ventricular hypertrophy often leads to heart failure, sudden death due to cardiac issues and heart attack.
A weakened heart becomes less efficient at circulating blood. That’s because the heart muscles no longer contracts and flexes smoothly. Eventually, the heart will wear out and stop working altogether. This condition is called heart failure.
Transient ischemic attack or TIA
Transient ischemic attack is also known as a mini-stroke. It occurs when there is a brief disruption of blood blow to the brain. This condition is often caused by atherosclerosis or a blood clot and both are triggered by high blood pressure. A TIA will occur without warning and it increases the risks of a full-blown stroke.
A stroke occurs when a section of the brain is deprived of oxygen and nutrients. When the brain is deprived of oxygen, brain cells die within minutes. High blood pressure could lead to stroke by damaging the brain’s blood vessels. This causes an arterial rupture or leak. Blood clots could also form in the arteries leading to a stroke.
Damaged arteries from high pressure could affect the kidneys too. The kidneys cannot filter waste as effectively. This leads to a buildup of toxins that destroys kidney tissues. Eventually, the kidneys will fail and the patient will require dialysis or a kidney transplant.