Nearly 1 in 3 adults in the United States has high blood pressure, and it’s especially prevalent in women. Many people don’t even know they have high blood pressure, but its effects can be extremely detrimental to your health and longevity. Blood pressure can naturally rise with age, even with proper diet and exercise, so it’s important to have your levels checked regularly.
If you needed convincing about looking after your blood pressure, consider the following eight ways that high blood pressure can damage your health.
1. Weakened Arteries
The stress of increased pressure within blood vessels can cause your arteries to weaken. With continued stress, your arteries may burst, leading to stroke or internal bleeding.
2. Fatty Plaque Buildup
While plaque buildup in the arteries is usually associated with high cholesterol, it can be encouraged by high blood pressure. Buildup of plaque in your arteries can cause all sorts of problems related to restricted blood flow.
3. Stress on Heart
The extra pressure in your blood vessels causes your heart to work harder than it should, which can lead to enlargement of the heart, weakness of the heart, and eventual heart failure.
4. Heart Attacks
High blood pressure sends your heart into overdrive, which can lead to coronary events through overwork. The plaque buildup doesn’t help, either, as coronary artery disease is one of the leading causes of heart attack.
5. Restricted Oxygen Delivery
As your arteries narrow as a result of increased pressure and plaque deposits, the amount of oxygen that gets to your organs begins to deplete. This can cause damage to your brain, eyes, lungs, you name it, and can result in permanent consequences like blindness and memory loss.
6. Strokes and Aneurysms
Weakened arteries can develop bulges called aneurysms that can burst as a result of increased pressure and cause damage to your brain or other organs as they’re flooded with blood. Strokes, when the bursting of blood vessels causes damage to the brain, can be life threatening, or result in long-term brain damage that affects speech and memory.
7. Kidney Failure
One of the most common effects of narrowed arteries caused by high blood pressure is kidney failure – and one of the largest causes of kidney failure is high blood pressure. If the arteries in your kidneys fail to function properly, your body has trouble ridding itself of waste and toxins, which can wreak havoc on your entire system. Kidney failure requires a transplant or dialysis treatments to remedy the problem.
8. Hypertensive Emergencies
Finally, severe and untreated high blood pressure can lead to hypertensive emergencies that don’t fall into any of these categories. If your blood pressure suddenly skyrockets to 180 systolic or 120 diastolic, you should contact an emergency medical professional immediately. Blood pressure this high can lead to stroke, loss of consciousness, fluid buildup in the lungs, memory loss and other brain damage, and organ damage in general as oxygen suddenly fails to be delivered by your arteries.
With these potentially life-threatening results of high blood pressure in mind, remember to talk to your doctor about whether or not your blood pressure is in a healthy range. If you do have high blood pressure, watch your diet and overall fitness levels to ensure that you keep it under control.