Hypertension, or high blood pressure, as it’s commonly referred to is a more serious condition than many give it credit for. Often, high blood pressure is the silent, underlying condition that claims the lives of many people. Last year, the American Heart Association estimated that about 45.6 percent of Americans suffer from high blood pressure in the United States.

Complications of high blood pressure can present themselves in a variety of serious conditions that can put your life at risk. That is why it is so important to keep track of your blood pressure, know the factors that could be putting you at risk, and the complications that may arise should your blood pressure remain high.

Complications Of High Blood Pressure  

Oftentimes, when someone suffers from a heart attack, stroke, or aneurysm, the underlying cause is having a history of high blood pressure. When high blood pressure is left untreated it can cause serious damage to your heart and your cardiovascular system. After some time, the risk of any of the following conditions becomes very high.

  • Heart attack or stroke. High blood pressure can cause hardening and thickening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), which can lead to a heart attack, stroke or other complications.

  • Aneurysm. Increased blood pressure can cause your blood vessels to weaken and bulge, forming an aneurysm. If an aneurysm ruptures, it can be life-threatening.

  • Heart failure. To pump blood against the higher pressure in your vessels, your heart muscle thickens. Eventually, the thickened muscle may have a hard time pumping enough blood to meet your body’s needs, which can lead to heart failure.

  • Weakened and narrowed blood vessels in your kidneys. This can prevent these organs from functioning normally.

  • Thickened, narrowed or torn blood vessels in the eyes. This can result in vision loss.

  • Metabolic syndrome. This syndrome is a cluster of disorders of your body’s metabolism, including increased waist circumference; high triglycerides; low high-density lipoprotein (HDL); or “good,” cholesterol; high blood pressure; and high insulin levels.

  • Trouble with memory or understanding. Uncontrolled high blood pressure may also affect your ability to think, remember and learn. Trouble with memory or understanding concepts is more common in people with high blood pressure.

Risk Factors For High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure can be caused by a variety of factors but is generally only detectable with a blood pressure test since the condition is often symptomless. Knowing the risk factors for high blood pressure can at least keep you aware of your personal risk for high blood pressure.

  1. Age. The risk of high blood pressure increases as you age. Through early middle age, or about age 45, high blood pressure is more common in men. Women are more likely to develop high blood pressure after age 65.

  2. Race. High blood pressure is particularly common among African Americans, often developing at an earlier age than it does in white Americans.

  3. Family history. High blood pressure tends to run in families.

  4. Being overweight or obese. The more you weigh the more blood you need to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. As the volume of blood circulated through your blood vessels increases, so does the pressure on your artery walls.

  5. Not being physically active. People who are inactive tend to have higher heart rates. The higher your heart rate, the harder your heart must work with each contraction and the stronger the force on your arteries.

  6. Using tobacco. Not only does smoking or chewing tobacco immediately raise your blood pressure temporarily, but the chemicals in tobacco can damage the lining of your artery walls. This can cause your arteries to narrow, increasing your blood pressure.

  7. Too much salt in your diet. Too much sodium in your diet can cause your body to retain fluid, which increases blood pressure.

  8. Lack of potassium in diet. Potassium helps balance the amount of sodium in your cells. If you don’t get enough potassium in your diet or retain enough potassium, you may accumulate too much sodium in your blood.

  9. Drinking too much alcohol. Over time, heavy drinking can damage your heart. Having more than two drinks a day for men and more than one drink a day for women may affect your blood pressure.

  10. Stress. High levels of stress can lead to a temporary increase in blood pressure. If you try to relax by eating more, using tobacco or drinking alcohol, you may only increase problems with high blood pressure.

  11. Certain chronic conditions. Certain chronic conditions also may increase your risk of high blood pressure, such as kidney disease and sleep apnea.

More Information

The complications of high blood pressure are serious and oftentimes deadly. That is why it is so important to manage your high blood pressure responsibly and to do everything possible to keep your body in good health with diet and exercise. If you feel as though you may be at risk for any of these high blood pressure complications, please visit our clinic to get an imaging exam of your heart health, or book an appointment with us today.