More than 100 million adults in the United States have high blood pressure, which is characterized as a persistent blood pressure reading of 130/80 mmHg or higher. Adding to the problem is that many people who have hypertension are unaware of it.
Taking steps to lower blood pressure and keep it within a target range is necessary to reduce the risk of complications. Left uncontrolled, high blood pressure can disrupt many organs and systems in the body. Hypertension is also a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke.
Board-certified cardiologist Ayim Djamson, MD, is devoted to providing the highest quality of heart care. It’s never too early to take good care of your heart and circulatory system.
Taking steps to adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle plays a role in helping to bring your blood pressure down. In the early stages, lifestyle changes may be enough to manage blood pressure. When those changes aren’t enough, medication can prove effective.
Pause for a moment as we explore the negative health impact of uncontrolled hypertension.
Heart attack and stroke
Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) is perhaps the most well known complication of uncontrolled high blood pressure. Healthy blood vessels are soft and flexible, allowing blood to flow freely. High blood pressure silently damages blood vessels, causing them to stiffen, and forcing the heart to work harder to circulate blood throughout the body.
Excess force against artery walls can cause them to thicken, and can create small tears that enable cholesterol to build up. This accumulation of fatty substances leaves less room for blood to flow, and a lack of blood supply to your heart or brain can cause a heart attack or stroke.
High blood pressure damages the small blood vessels that supply blood to your kidneys. Over time, uncontrolled high blood pressure can cause chronic kidney disease and lead to kidney failure. In fact, hypertension is the second leading cause of kidney failure behind diabetes.
Small, delicate blood vessels supply blood to your eyes. Damage to these blood vessels from long-standing high blood pressure can lead to blurry vision and vision loss. Promptly treating high blood pressure protects your vision.
The strain of high blood pressure causes the heart muscle to thicken and become enlarged. Over time, the heart weakens and becomes unable to keep up, resulting in heart failure. This occurs when the heart can no longer pump blood throughout the body efficiently. Treating high blood pressure eases the burden on the heart.
Peripheral artery disease
Hypertension is a risk factor for peripheral artery disease (PAD). The plaque that builds up from the damage of high blood pressure can reduce blood flow to your legs. The result is pain and cramping in the legs, even with little exertion.
PAD can cause other problems as well, including slow-healing wounds that can easily become infected. Treating high blood pressure and managing PAD are necessary to prevent further damage and complications.
Brain health is also at risk when you leave high blood pressure untreated. Hypertension raises the risk of cognitive impairment, which can affect your memory and productivity. Even mild high blood pressure in middle age increases the risk of dementia as you grow older.
High blood pressure can even affect your sex life. Adequate blood flow is necessary to achieve and maintain an erection, but damage to blood vessels from untreated high blood pressure can reduce blood flow to the penis. Erectile dysfunction is a common consequence of uncontrolled high blood pressure.
Taking care of your heart
Heart disease is largely preventable, and the power is in your hands. Forming a trusting, collaborative partnership with a heart health specialist is one of the best ways to protect your heart.
For a heart health checkup, and for all of your cardiovascular needs, call the office nearest you to schedule a visit with Dr. Djamson. We have offices in Beltsville, Bowie, and Columbia, Maryland.
Prospective and current patients can also request an appointment here on our website. Reach out to us today. Your heart will thank you.