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Dangers of High Blood Pressure

Dangers of High Blood Pressure

Otherwise known as hypertension, high blood pressure is often considered a silent killer. If left untreated, the condition may cause serious complications.
Sonia Nair
Last Updated: Apr 23, 2018
High blood pressure is a complex and common disorder, which is characterized by elevated blood pressure levels. Almost 90% of cases occur without any cause, while the rest can be attributed to other medical conditions, like tumors and kidney diseases. Usually, this condition does not produce any symptom; but sometimes, it can cause dizziness, headache, nausea, and vomiting. As most of the affected people do not experience any symptom, high blood pressure is often referred to as the 'silent killer'. This condition develops gradually, and can be detected through a medical checkup only. If not detected and treated on time, high blood pressure may cause damage to many organs. Persistent hypertension can lead to serious complications, like stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and vision problems.
Brain Damage
One of the most common and life-threatening complications of high blood pressure is the damage caused to the brain. It can affect the normal blood flow to the brain, which in turn, can lead to various complications. They include transient ischemic attack (TIA) or ministroke, which can be an indicator of a more severe stroke that may happen in the future. Other problems are dementia, and cognitive impairment. A ministroke is caused by a temporary disruption in the blood supply to the brain. This leads to a brief neurologic dysfunction, which lasts for less than 24 hours. If the condition persists for more than a day, it is considered a stroke.
A stroke is a more severe form of TIA. It is caused by high blood pressure, which leads to a rupture or damage of a blood vessel in the brain. This causes death of the brain cells due to blockage of oxygen supply to that part. It may also cause aneurysm, which is characterized by a bulging blood vessel, which can rupture and bleed anytime. Hypertension can also result in dementia and cognitive impairment. The former leads to problems in thinking, speaking, vision, memory, and movements; whereas the latter condition affects the ability to read, write, think, react, and memorize.
Heart and Kidney Disorders
The dangers of high blood pressure include disorders of the heart and kidneys, which are among the most vital organs of the body. Even though the heart is an organ which pumps blood to the whole body, very high blood pressure can damage it. Likewise, kidneys are the organs which purify the blood and removes excess fluid. Hypertension can damage the blood vessels leading to the organ, and those inside them.
  • High blood pressure is one of the main risk factors, as far as heart attack and heart failure is concerned. It can cause heart attack in a person who is already affected by coronary artery disease and atherosclerosis. The consistent strain on the heart muscles due to high blood pressure, may weaken the muscles and cause heart failure.
  • Another condition, called enlarged left heart is also a result of hypertension, as it forces the heart to work harder. This leads to the enlargement of the left ventricle, which affects its ability to pump blood. An enlarged left heart is also a risk factor for heart attack, heart failure and cardiac arrest.
  • As in case of the brain, the arteries in the kidneys may also develop aneurysm. Such a bulge in a blood vessel leading to the kidneys is termed kidney (renal) artery aneurysm. High blood pressure can enlarge the wall of a weakened artery and cause aneurysm, which can lead to serious internal bleeding, in case of rupture.
  • Another danger of high blood pressure is kidney failure caused by the damage to the large arteries leading to these organs and the smaller blood vessels inside the kidneys.
  • Once again, hypertension can result in kidney scarring or glomerulosclerosis, which may also lead to kidney failure. This is a condition wherein the glomeruli (the group of blood vessels inside the kidneys), which carry out the function of filtering waste, are affected.
Apart from the brain, kidneys, and the heart; high blood pressure can also affect the eyes and the bones, and may also cause other medical conditions.
High Blood Pressure and the Eyes
As in case of the heart, brain, kidneys, and other body parts; blood vessels supply blood to the eyes too. Hypertension can cause damage to these vessels, which in turn can cause vision disorders. One such condition is termed retinopathy or eye blood vessel damage, which is caused by damage of the blood vessels leading to the retina. This can result in blurred vision or total loss of vision, bleeding, and swelling of the optic nerve. Another eye disorder is fluid accumulation under the retina. The condition, which is termed choroidopathy, is caused by a leaking blood vessel in the choroid. This condition can also affect vision. High blood pressure may also cause nerve damage in the eyes. The condition is called optic neuropathy, which can cause death of the nerve cells and result in loss of vision.
Hypertension may also lead to calcium deficiency, which may result in bone loss. It can also cause erectile dysfunction in men. Dangers of high blood pressure are very severe conditions, which can sometimes lead to death. Hence, it is important to control this disorder, with regular medication and routine checkup. A healthy lifestyle, along with a healthy diet may also work wonders.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.