The ONE organ responsible for high blood pressure.
Effects of High Blood Pressure If Untreated
High blood pressure (hypertension) can quietly damage the body years before symptoms appear. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to disability, poor quality of life and even a fatal heart attack or stroke. Treatment and lifestyle changes can help control high blood pressure to reduce the risk of life-threatening complications Damage to arteries Healthy arteries are flexible, strong and resilient. Their inner lining is smooth, allowing blood to flow freely, supplying vital organs and tissues with nutrients and oxygen. High blood pressure (hypertension) gradually increases the pressure of blood flowing through the arteries. Hypertension can cause: Damaged and narrowed arteries. High blood pressure can damage the cells of the inner lining of the arteries. When fats from the diet enter the bloodstream, they can build up in damaged arteries. Eventually, artery walls become less flexible, restricting blood flow throughout the body. 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). The aneurysm can potentially rupture and cause life-threatening internal bleeding. Aneurysms can form in any artery, but are most common in the body's largest artery (the aorta). Heart damage High blood pressure can cause many heart problems, including: Coronary artery disease. Arteries narrowed and damaged by high blood pressure have trouble supplying blood to the heart. Too little blood flow to the heart can lead to chest pain (angina), irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmia) or a heart attack. Enlarged left heart. High blood pressure forces the heart to work harder to pump blood to the rest of the body. This causes the lower part of the heart's left ventricle (left ventricle) to thicken. A thickened left ventricle increases the risk of heart attack, heart failure and sudden cardiac death. Heart failure. Over time, the strain on the heart caused by high blood pressure can cause the heart muscle to weaken and work less efficiently. Eventually, an overloaded heart begins to fail. Brain damage For the brain to work properly, it depends on a nutritious blood supply. High blood pressure can affect the brain in the following ways: Transient ischemic attack (TIA). Sometimes called a mini-stroke, a TIA is a brief, temporary disruption of the blood supply to the brain. Hardened arteries or blood clots caused by high blood pressure can cause a TIA. A TIA is often a warning sign before a full-blown stroke. Stroke. A stroke occurs when part of the brain does not receive enough oxygen and nutrients, causing brain cells to die. Blood vessels damaged by high blood pressure can narrow, burst or leak. High blood pressure can also cause blood clots to form in the arteries leading to the brain, blocking blood flow and potentially causing a stroke. Dementia. Narrowed or blocked arteries can restrict blood flow to the brain, leading to a type of dementia (vascular dementia). A stroke that interrupts blood flow to the brain can also cause vascular dementia. Mild cognitive impairment. This condition is a transitional stage between the changes in understanding and memory that generally come with aging and the more serious problems caused by dementia. Studies suggest that high blood pressure can lead to mild cognitive impairment. Kidney damage The kidneys filter excess fluid and waste from the blood - a process that requires healthy blood vessels. High blood pressure can damage the blood vessels in and leading to the kidneys. Having diabetes in addition to high blood pressure can worsen the damage. Kidney problems caused by high blood pressure include: Renal scarring (glomerulosclerosis). This type of kidney damage occurs when the small blood vessels within the kidneys become scarred and are unable to effectively filter fluids and waste from the blood. Sclerosis of the glomeruli can lead to kidney failure. Renal failure. High blood pressure is one of the most common causes of kidney failure. Damaged blood vessels prevent the kidneys from effectively filtering waste from the blood, allowing dangerous levels of fluid and waste to build up. Treatment may include dialysis or a kidney transplant. Eye damage High blood pressure can damage the tiny, delicate blood vessels that supply blood to the eyes, causing: Damage to blood vessels in the retina (retinopathy). Damage to blood vessels in the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye (retina) can lead to bleeding in the eye, blurred vision and complete loss of vision. Having diabetes in addition to high blood pressure increases the risk of retinopathy. Sexual dysfunction The inability to have and maintain an erection (erectile dysfunction) is becoming more common in men as they reach the age of 50. But men with high blood pressure are even more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction. This is because restricted blood flow caused by high blood pressure can block blood flow to the penis. [cool_tag_cloud on_single_display="local"]