High blood pressure is also known as hypertension, and it’s a fairly serious yet common condition where a person’s blood pressure reaches unhealthy levels.
The higher the amount of resistance blood flow meets while the heart is pumping, the higher the blood pressure. Symptoms can include headaches, shortness of breath, nosebleeds, chest pain, dizziness, and blood in the urine.
High blood pressure can cause damage in other ways, including artery damage, stroke, and even vision problems.
Consequences of high blood pressure on your health
These are eight major medical issues having high blood pressure could potentially cause.
1. Artery damage
A healthy artery is strong, elastic, and flexible, with a smooth inner lining allowing blood to flow freely. Yet with high blood pressure, arteries can become damaged and narrowed. This in turn can lead to fats (from the person’s diet) collecting in the damaged arteries, which then reduce in elasticity and become less able to facilitate healthy blood flow through the body. In time, this could cause a section in the artery wall to enlarge and develop a bulge. These bulges are known as aneurysms and they can potentially rupture, leading to life-threatening internal
High blood pressure is more common than many people might think. For example, as many as one in five New Zealanders suffer from high blood pressure, and half of all Americans are expected to be diagnosed with it at some stage. One of the major complications that could develop from high blood pressure is stroke. The arteries supplying blood and oxygen to the brain can burst or become blocked, leading to stroke. In turn, brain cells die off, which can then cause disabilities relating to speech and movement, or even death.
3. Heart failure
The heart has to work harder to pump blood when a person has high blood pressure. This can result in what’s known as left ventricular hypertrophy, which is the thickening of the heart’s pumping chamber. In time, this thickened heart muscle could find it challenging to pump enough blood for your body’s requirements, eventually resulting in heart enlargement and heart failure.
4. Vision loss
High blood pressure is linked to vision problems and vision loss. Having high blood pressure can strain the eyes and damage the blood vessels in the eyes. The eye’s blood vessels can become thickened, narrowed, and torn. Ultimately, this can lead to retinopathy, or damage to the retina, which can manifest as bleeding in the eye, blurred vision, and a complete loss of vision. People can also experience fluid buildup under the retina and nerve damage in the optic
5. Kidney disease
High blood pressure is linked to a higher risk of chronic kidney disease. This is due to weakened and narrowed blood vessels in the kidneys, which hinders the kidneys from doing their job of filtering excess fluid and waste from the blood. Kidney scarring due to damaged blood vessels can eventually lead to kidney failure.
6. Sexual dysfunction
Having high blood pressure could increase the risk of sexual dysfunction or the inability to have and maintain an erection. This is due to the limited blood flow caused by high blood pressure, which could result in reduced or blocked blood flow to the penis. Women, too, can experience sexual dysfunction due to high blood pressure. This occurs when there’s reduced blood flow to the vagina, which in turn reduces sexual desire or arousal and causes vaginal dryness and challenges in achieving orgasm.
7. Brain damage
The brain needs a good supply of oxygen-rich blood to function effectively. High blood pressure can inhibit this with what’s known as transient ischemic attacks, which are temporary blockages of blood flow to the brain. If the blockage of blood flow is significant, brain cells can die, leading to stroke as noted above. In addition, high blood pressure, especially later in life, is related to poorer cognitive function and dementia. Poorer memory and inhibited ability to learn, speak, reason, and recall are some of the possible outcomes.
8. Metabolic syndrome
High blood pressure is also linked to metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome refers to the collection of conditions that often occur together. It’s significant because it increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. These conditions include high blood pressure, increased waist size, high blood triglycerides, obesity, low levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and insulin resistance.
High blood pressure is a health concern for many
High blood pressure is clearly something everyone will want to do their best to prevent. If you have high blood pressure, speak to your doctor about what you can do to lower your blood pressure with medications. If you’re looking at prevention, your doctor can also give you advice to help minimize your chances of getting high blood pressure. Lifestyle changes like getting enough exercise every week, not smoking, and eating a healthful diet low in salt and alcohol could help. In addition, reducing stress and staying within a healthy weight range could also
minimize the risks of having high blood pressure.
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