Effects of High Blood Pressure

Effects on the Heart

If the inside of your blood vessels get smaller and harder -- and the pressure inside them increases -- your heart has to pump harder to get blood through them. Your heart is a muscle, and just like other muscles, working this hard makes your heart get bigger.
This is not a good thing for the heart. The heart can become stretched out, and some of the blood that is supposed to pump through your body remains inside the heart instead. Eventually, the heart begins to weaken because it simply cannot continue to pump so hard against the pressure in your vessels. When the heart can no longer pump all the blood out of its chambers, a person has what's known as congestive heart failure. This is a serious condition. Fluid backing up into the lungs and chest cavity -- leading to extreme shortness of breath -- can be a symptom of congestive heart failure.

Effects on the Brain

High blood pressure can also damage the brain. Blood vessels in the brain can rupture or get blocked, just like blood vessels elsewhere in the body. The difference is that if a blood vessel ruptures in the brain, the bleeding can cause serious problems, or even death. This bleeding is called a hemorrhage. If a blood vessel in the brain gets blocked, the brain tissues will be deprived of the nutrients and oxygen they usually get from the blood. This is known as a stroke. High blood pressure is a major cause of both strokes and bleeding in the brain. It can also affect normal brain function as a person ages.

Effects on the Kidneys

The kidneys are also important organs that can be damaged by high blood pressure. If the arteries that supply blood to the kidneys are damaged, the kidneys' tissues will not get the blood they need and the kidneys themselves can gradually lose their ability to function.
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