Consequences of High Blood Pressure: High blood pressure (hypertension) can silently damage the body and cause complications. The excessive pressure on your artery walls caused by high blood pressure can damage your blood vessels, as well as organs in your body. The higher your blood pressure and the longer it goes uncontrolled, the greater the damage. Fortunately, you can control your blood pressure to lower your risk for serious health problems.
Consequences of High Blood Pressure: #1 Damage to the Brain
The brain depends on oxygen from the blood to function normally, but high blood pressure can cause a series of problems:
- Transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a brief, temporary disruption of blood supply to your brain often caused by high blood pressure. A transient ischemic attack is often a warning that you're at risk of a full-blown stroke.
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to stroke by damaging and weakening the brain's blood vessels, causing them to narrow, rupture or leak. 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. Vascular dementia can result from narrowing and blockage of the arteries that supply blood to the brain. Dementia can also result from strokes caused by an interruption of blood flow to the brain.
- Mild cognitive impairment. Mild cognitive impairment is a transition stage between the changes in understanding and memory. Like dementia, it can result from blocked blood flow to the brain when high blood pressure damages arteries.
Consequences of High Blood Pressure: #2 Damage to the Eyes
Blood is supplied to the eyes by tiny vessels that can be damaged due to high blood pressure.
- Retinopathy. High blood pressure can damage the vessels supplying blood to your retina. This condition can lead to bleeding in the eye, blurred vision and complete loss of vision.
- Choroidopathy. Fluid builds up under the retina because of a leaky blood vessel in a layer of blood vessels located under the retina. This can result in distorted vision or in some cases scarring that impairs vision.
- Optic neuropathy. Blocked blood flow damages the optic nerve. It can kill nerve cells in your eyes, which may cause bleeding within your eye or vision loss.
Consequences of High Blood Pressure: #3 Damage to the Heart
High blood pressure can harden arteries, decreasing the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart and lead to heart disease. In addition, decreased blood flow to the heart can cause:
- Coronary artery disease. Arteries narrowed by coronary artery disease don't allow blood to flow freely through your arteries. This results in chest pain, a heart attack or irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias).
- Enlarged left heart. High blood pressure forces the heart to work harder than normal, causing the left ventricle to thicken or stiffen (left ventricular hypertrophy). 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, the overwhelmed heart begins to wear out and fail.
Consequences of High Blood Pressure: #4 Damage to the Kidneys
High blood pressure can injure both the blood vessels in and leading to your kidneys, causing several types of kidney disease (nephropathy).
- Kidney failure. High blood pressure can damage both the large arteries leading to your kidneys and the tiny blood vessels (glomeruli) within the kidneys. This affects the kidneys from filtering waste from the blood, resulting in dangerous levels of fluid and waste accumulation.
- Glomerulosclerosi is a type of kidney damage caused by scarring of the glomeruli. Glomerulosclerosis can leave your kidneys unable to filter waste effectively, leading to kidney failure.
- Kidney (renal) artery aneurysm. High blood pressure in a weakened artery can cause a section to enlarge and form a bulge, the aneurysm. Aneurysms can rupture and cause life-threatening internal bleeding.
Consequences of High Blood Pressure: #5 Damage to the Arteries
High blood pressure gradually increases the pressure of blood flowing through your arteries. As a result, you might experience:
- Damaged and narrowed arteries. Fats from your diet enter the bloodstream and collect in the damaged arteries. Eventually, the artery walls become less elastic, limiting blood flow throughout the body.
- Constant pressure of blood moving through a weakened artery can cause a section of its wall to enlarge and form an aneurysm. This can potentially rupture and cause life-threatening internal bleeding.