1,000 Americans die from high blood pressure each day.
Many of us make jokes about our blood pressure being high when we are stressed. The truth is, high blood pressure is no joke. Failing to recognize and treat high blood pressure can lead to the development of serious diseases and even death. Many people don’t even know they have high blood pressure. It’s a silent but deadly disease, causing long-term damage to your body without making a peep.
If that isn’t enough to convince you to get your blood pressure checked, keep reading for 5 scary long-term effects of high blood pressure.
1. Heart Damage
There are several ways that high blood pressure contributes to heart damage. Your heart is one of the most vital organs you have, and you only get one. Your heart is responsible for pumping blood around your entire body. Having high blood pressure makes your heart work harder and makes it harder for your heart to do its job.
Coronary Artery Disease
This type of disease affects your arteries that supply blood to your heart muscle. High blood pressure leads to narrowing of these arteries. When they narrow, blood cannot flow freely through them. You’ll likely experience chest pain, irregular heartbeats, or arrhythmia, or even a heart attack.
Enlarging of the Left Heart
When your heart has to work harder, the left ventricle thickens and stiffens over time. It then has a hard time pumping blood to the rest of your body. This condition leads to increased risk of heart attack, heart failure, and sudden death.
High blood pressure puts tremendous strain on your heart. Over time its muscles will weaken and not be able to work efficiently. Your heart will eventually grow tired and fail. If you suffer heart attacks, this problem is made even worse.
2. Damage to Arteries
The arteries in your heart are supposed to be a strong, flexible elastic consistency. They have a smooth inner lining to help blood flow freely. When you have high blood pressure, blood flows through your arteries at too high of a pressure, leading to damage. Over time, high blood pressure damages the cells of the inner lining of your arteries. They also lose their elasticity and blood flow throughout your body is limited.
When your blood moves at high pressures through a weakened artery, the walls of your arteries can enlarge and form a bulge. This is called an aneurysm. Aneurysms can rupture suddenly and cause internal bleeding. This can happen in any artery in your body but usually happens in your aorta, the largest artery. Aneurysms are often deadly.
Your heart is probably your second most important organ, right behind your brain. If a heart disease isn’t scary enough, how about brain damage? Your brain is an organ just like your heart and it depends on a steady supply of blood to maintain its health and function.
Strokes are one of the leading causes of death for Americans. This occurs when your brain doesn’t receive enough oxygen, causing its cells to die. High blood pressures increase your risk of stroke by damaging the blood vessels in your brain and causing them to leak, narrow, and even rupture. Strokes can also occur as a result of blood clots formed in these weakened arteries.
A Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) is an event where your brain experiences a temporary disruption of blood supply. This is usually the result of narrowing arteries or a blood clot, often arising from high blood pressure. TIAs are mini-strokes and often signal that a stroke is likely to occur.
When one thinks of dementia, inevitable aging often comes to mind. But there are actually a number of causes of dementia, including high blood pressure. Vascular dementia results from narrowing and blockage in the arteries that supply blood to the brain. Dementia can also be the results of strokes with an original cause of high blood pressure. Other forms of mild cognitive impairment beyond the normal results of ageing can also be the result of high blood pressure blocking arteries and restricting blood flow to the brain.
4. Kidney Damage and Eye Damage
Your kidneys depend on healthy blood vessels to do their job of filtering excess fluid and waste from your blood. Having high blood pressure can result in damage to the kidneys as well as damage inside your kidneys. This can result in several types of kidney disease, also called nephropathy.
Examples of forms of kidney disease include kidney scarring and kidney artery aneurysms. In fact, high blood pressure is one of the most common causes of kidney failure. By now you probably have a pretty good idea of how blood vessels and arteries are damaged by high blood pressure. But did you know that your eyes are made up of tiny, delicate blood vessels that supply blood to them?
High blood pressure can also damage these vessels leading to bleeding, blurred vision, and even complete blindness. There are actually a number of ways that high blood pressure can lead to vision problems or loss.
5. Other Issues
There are a number of other unpleasant and embarrassing issues that can be attributed to high blood pressure. High blood pressure can cause bone loss, trouble sleeping, sexual dysfunction, and even hair loss. You can read more about hypertension and hair loss here. High blood pressure can affect your appearance and your comfort as well as your internal body processes.
More Effects of High Blood Pressure
This is only a brief overview of some of the scariest long-term side effects of high blood pressure. There are plenty more effects of high blood pressure to be aware of. If you haven’t had your blood pressure checked recently, we recommend visiting your doctor. To read more about your health, check out this post.