High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a common condition where the force of the blood against your artery walls is too high. Consistently high blood pressure can lead to various health issues. You may not feel any symptoms, but the impact on your body can be significant. Below, you’ll learn about the multiple effects of high blood pressure on different parts of your body.
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This is What High Blood Pressure Can Do to Your Body
High blood pressure can be harsh on your heart. It forces your heart to work harder to pump blood. Over time, this extra work thickens the muscles of your heart, specifically the left ventricle. This thickening, known as left ventricular hypertrophy, makes it harder for your heart to pump blood.
Also, high blood pressure increases your risk of developing coronary artery disease. These are the arteries that supply blood to your heart muscle. When they’re damaged, they can’t supply enough blood, leading to chest pain (angina) or, worse, a heart attack.
Similarly, your blood vessels suffer too. Constant high pressure can make them less elastic, limiting blood and oxygen flow to your organs. This rigidity can lead to atherosclerosis, where plaque builds up on the vessel walls, further narrowing them and increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
High blood pressure can cause PAD, where narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to your limbs, leading to pain and numbness, usually in the legs.
High blood pressure is a major cause of strokes. When the blood vessels in your brain get blocked or burst due to high pressure, it prevents oxygen and nutrients from reaching parts of your brain, resulting in a stroke.
The increased pressure can cause your blood vessels to bulge and form aneurysms. If an aneurysm bursts, it can be life-threatening.
Additionally, high blood pressure can affect your brain’s ability to think, remember, and learn. Over time, it may lead to cognitive decline, dementia, and difficulties with memory and understanding.
Damage to the Kidneys
The kidneys are another critical area affected by high blood pressure. These organs filter waste from your blood and regulate fluid levels. High blood pressure can damage the blood vessels in and around the kidneys, impairing their ability to function effectively. Over time, this can cause kidney disease or even kidney failure, necessitating dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Effects on the Eyes
High blood pressure can also harm your eyes. The tiny, delicate blood vessels in your eyes can be damaged by the increased pressure, potentially leading to retinopathy. This condition can result in blurred vision or even blindness. Additionally, hypertension increases the risk of macular degeneration and optic nerve damage.
In men, high blood pressure can interfere with blood flow necessary for an erection, leading to erectile dysfunction.
Female Sexual Dysfunction
For women, reduced blood flow due to high blood pressure can lower sexual desire, cause vaginal dryness, or make it difficult to achieve orgasm.
Bone Density Loss
High blood pressure can cause your body to lose more calcium than usual, potentially leading to bone loss and increasing osteoporosis risk, especially in older adults.
Managing High Blood Pressure
To keep high blood pressure in check, consider these steps:
- Regular Blood Pressure Checks: Keep an eye on your blood pressure levels.
- Healthy Eating Habits: Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
- Consistent Exercise: Regular physical activity can help lower blood pressure.
- Moderate Salt Consumption: Reducing salt intake can be beneficial.
- Control Your Stress: Managing stress is vital as it can affect blood pressure.
- Avoid Tobacco and Limit Alcohol Use: Both can have an impact on blood pressure.
- Adherence to Medical Advice: If you have medication prescribed, take it consistently as advised.