Risks Of High Blood Pressure
Recently, I’ve been having pain in my right shoulder blade. Lots of it! Headaches too. I thought it was time to double check my blood pressure. Low and behold…it was through the roof! 176 OVER 97! Since your blood pressure shouldn’t be any higher than 120 and 80, I thought there was definitely need for concern. I immediately started taking blood pressure medicine, and noticed a huge difference. Not as tired and worn out, and just a lot more alert. Of course, this did make me worry, so I started looking into the threat of high blood pressure, and here is what I found. I hope that you will be smarter than me and stop living in denial about your heart health. I know this was an eye opener for me.
High blood pressure (hypertension) can quietly damage your body for years before symptoms develop. You may wind up with a disability, poor quality of life or even a fatal heart attack. I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford that raising my boys, nor do I want that. Fortunately, with treatment and lifestyle changes, you and I can control high blood pressure to reduce your risk of life-threatening complications. I have listed here just some of the terrible things that can happen to you, if you keep living in denial that this can’t happen to you. I hope this will keep you alert, and help you make healthy choices so you can reverse the damage and live a long and heart healthy life!
Damage to your arteries
Healthy arteries are flexible, strong and elastic. High blood pressure can damage the cells of your arteries and make artery walls thick and stiff. Fats from your diet enter your bloodstream. These changes can affect arteries throughout your body, blocking blood flow to your heart, kidneys, brain, arms and legs. The damage can cause chest pain (angina), heart attack, heart failure, kidney failure, stroke, blocked arteries in your legs or arms, eye damage, and aneurysms.
What’s an Aneurysm?
Over time, the constant pressure of blood moving through a weakened artery can cause a section of its wall to enlarge and form a bulge (aneurysm). An aneurysm can potentially rupture and cause life-threatening internal bleeding. Aneurysms can form in any artery throughout your body, but they’re most common in the aorta, your body’s largest artery.
Damage to your heart
Your heart pumps blood to your entire body. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can damage your heart in a number of ways, such as:
Coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease affects the arteries that supply blood to your heart muscle. Arteries narrowed by coronary artery disease don’t allow blood to flow freely through your arteries. When blood can’t flow freely to your heart, you can experience chest pain, a heart attack or irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias).
Enlarged left heart. High blood pressure forces your heart to work harder than necessary in order to pump blood to the rest of your body. This causes the left ventricle to thicken or stiffen (left ventricular hypertrophy). These changes limit the ventricle’s ability to pump blood to your body. This condition increases your risk of heart attack, heart failure and sudden cardiac death.
Heart failure. Over time, the strain on your heart caused by high blood pressure can cause your heart muscle to weaken and work less efficiently. Eventually, your overwhelmed heart simply begins to wear out and fail. Damage from heart attacks adds to this problem.
Damage to your brain
Just like your heart, your brain depends on a nourishing blood supply to work properly and survive. But high blood pressure can cause several problems, including:
Transient ischemic attack (TIA). Sometimes called a ministroke, a transient ischemic (is-KEE-mik) attack is a brief, temporary disruption of blood supply to your brain. A transient ischemic attack is often a warning that you’re at risk of a full-blown stroke.
A stroke occurs when part of your brain is deprived of oxygen and nutrients, causing brain cells to die. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to stroke by damaging and weakening your brain’s blood vessels. High blood pressure can also cause blood clots to form in the arteries leading to your brain, blocking blood flow and potentially causing a stroke.
Dementia is a brain disease resulting in problems with thinking, speaking, reasoning, memory, vision and movement. There are a number of causes of dementia. One cause, vascular dementia, can result from narrowing and blockage of the arteries that supply blood to the brain. It can also result from strokes caused by an interruption of blood flow to the brain. In either case, high blood pressure may be the culprit.
Mild cognitive impairment. Mild cognitive impairment is a transition stage between the changes in understanding and memory that come with aging and the more-serious problems caused by Alzheimer’s disease. Like dementia, it can result from blocked blood flow to the brain when high blood pressure damages arteries.
Damage to your kidneys
Your kidneys filter excess fluid and waste from your blood — a process that depends on healthy blood vessels. High blood pressure can injur both the blood vessels in and leading to your kidneys, causing several types of kidney disease. Having diabetes in addition to high blood pressure can worsen the damage.
High blood pressure is one of the most common causes of kidney failure. That’s because it can damage both the large arteries leading to your kidneys and the tiny blood vessels within the kidneys. Damage to either makes it so your kidneys can’t effectively filter waste from your blood. You might ultimately require dialysis or kidney transplantation.
Make a change!
There are many other problems that can arise from uncontrolled high blood pressure. The good news is, you can stop it, with the proper treatments as well as preventative care.
Eating more fruits and vegetables, keeping a healthy weight, drinking less or NO alcohol, exercising and checking your blood pressure can all help you control blood pressure issues. For more information on how to control blood pressure, visit bloodpressureuk.org.