Effects of High Blood Pressure
Over time, the effects of high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) can include a heart attack, kidney failure, and congestive heart failure. The body structures most vulnerable to high blood pressure include the blood vessels, heart, brain, and kidneys. Fortunately, making certain lifestyle changes can help reduce the impact on these vital organs.
High blood pressure is often referred to as "the silent killer." Most people with high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) don't have any high blood pressure symptoms, since the effects are occurring inside the body.
The body structures that chronic high blood pressure affects most include:
- Blood vessels
Because of the effects on these organs, a person who has had high blood pressure for a long time (known as chronic hypertension) can have:
- A heart attack
- Kidney failure
- Congestive heart failure (CHF)
- Eye damage with loss of vision
- Peripheral arterial disease, including bulges or outpouchings of the aorta (called aneurysms)
- A stroke or "mini stroke" -- also known as a "TIA" (transient ischemic attack).
The small blood vessels in the vital organs are commonly affected by high blood pressure over time. High blood pressure causes blood vessels to become scarred, hardened, and less elastic -- which means they are more likely to get blocked or rupture. This may happen naturally as you get older (whether or not your blood pressure is too high), but high blood pressure can speed up this process.
Another one of high blood pressure's effects on your blood vessels is that it may play a role in the development of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the process of the artery walls becoming thicker (also known as narrowing or "hardening") due to a buildup of fat and cholesterol. High blood pressure adds strain to the blood vessel walls, putting them at higher risk for developing atherosclerosis than they would be otherwise.