Long term untreated hypertension (high blood pressure) threatens your quality of life and can lead to a number of health complications.
If left undetected, high blood pressure can lead to:
Damage to your blood vessels. When your blood pressure is too high for too long it can damage your arteries. Cholesterol (a fatty substance found in your diet) builds up along your artery walls over time leading to a narrowing of the arteries and an increase in the workload of your circulatory system and a further increase in blood pressure.
Aneurysm: An aneurysm happens when an area of an artery wall weakens. High blood pressure can lead to a bulging of the weakened artery wall that can potentially rupture and cause life-threatening bleeding.
Coronary artery disease: High blood pressure causes blood vessels to become damaged and narrow so blood cannot flow freely to your heart. As a result, you may get chest pain (angina) and irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias).
Heart Attack: High blood pressure causes the blood vessels to thicken and harden (atherosclerosis) which can lead to blockage of the arteries that carry blood to the heart, preventing blood flow to the heart muscle and possible heart attack.
Heart Failure: Increased pressure and workload on the heart as a result of high blood pressure can cause the heart to become enlarged. The stress on your heart can cause the heart muscle to weaken and work less efficiently.
Transient ischemic attack (TIA): TIA is a short and temporary disruption of the blood supply to your brain. Damage to arteries or blood clots caused by high blood pressure can cause TIA.
Stroke: High blood pressure can cause the blood vessels in your brain to clog up and even burst.
Dementia: Hypertension causes narrowing and blockage of the arteries that carry blood to the brain which leads to a certain type of dementia (vascular dementia).
Damage to your kidneys: High blood pressure is one of the most common causes of kidney failure. Damaged blood vessels prevent the kidneys from effectively filtering waste from your blood, allowing dangerous levels of fluid and waste to accumulate.
Damage to your eyes: Hypertension can cause narrowing and even rupture of the blood vessels in the retina in the back area of the eye, which can lead over time to a gradual deterioration of vision to the point of blindness.
Sexual dysfunction: High blood pressure can cause erectile dysfunction in men, and a loss of libido in women.
TIP: All these complications occur if your blood pressure is too high over a long period of time.
Your best protection is knowledge, management, and prevention!
HOW TO PREVENT COMPLICATIONS OF HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
- Check your blood pressure regularly at home and at your doctor’s office
- Adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle
- Learn about the causes of high blood pressure and how to manage your risks
- Build an active partnership with your healthcare team by sharing your blood pressure measurements regularly
- Take your medication as directed by your health care provider