Blood Pressure Home > Why High Blood Pressure Is a Health Concern
You might wonder why high blood pressure is a health concern. Chronic hypertension can lead to serious health concerns, such as heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure. Risk factors for high blood pressure include being overweight, being physically inactive, and having a high sodium intake -- all of which add up to why high blood pressure is a health concern.
Blood pressure is the amount of force (pressure) that blood exerts on the walls of the blood vessels as it passes through them. As blood is pumped from your heart into your blood vessels, enough pressure is created to send it to all other parts of your body. As blood vessels travel away from the heart, they branch off and gradually get smaller, just like the branches of a tree. One branch may go to the brain while another may go to your kidneys. Blood pressure keeps the blood flowing through all these branches so that your body's cells get the oxygen and nutrients they need and waste matter can be removed.
The body structures that chronic high blood pressure affects most include the:
- Blood vessels
Because of the effects of high blood pressure on these organs, a person who has had high blood pressure for a long time (known as chronic hypertension) can have:
- Congestive heart failure (CHF)
- A stroke or "mini stroke" -- also known as a "TIA" (transient ischemic attack)
- Peripheral arterial disease, including bulges or outpouchings of the aorta (called aneurysms)
- Eye damage with loss of vision
- A heart attack
- Kidney failure.