High blood pressure is a common condition in which the long-term force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, affecting almost every organ systems.
You can have high blood pressure (hypertension) for years without any symptoms. Even without symptoms, damage to blood vessels and your heart continues and can be detected. Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of serious health problems, including heart attack and stroke.
Complications of Hypertension
The excessive pressure on your artery walls caused by high blood pressure can damage your blood vessels, as well as organs in your body. The higher your blood pressure and the longer it goes uncontrolled, the greater the damage.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to complications including:
- Heart attack or stroke. High blood pressure can cause hardening and thickening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), which can lead to a heart attack, stroke or other complications. Keeping the blood pressure at check ensures further delaying and prevention of these complications.
- Aneurysm. Increased blood pressure can cause your blood vessels to weaken and bulge, forming an aneurysm. If an aneurysm ruptures, it can be life-threatening. Avoiding spikes in blood pressure over the years is protective for these complications.
- Heart failure. To pump blood against the higher pressure in your vessels, the heart has to work harder. This causes the walls of the heart’s pumping chamber to thicken (left ventricular hypertrophy). Eventually, the thickened muscle may have a hard time pumping enough blood to meet your body’s needs, which can lead to heart failure.
- Weakened and narrowed blood vessels in your kidneys. This can prevent these organs from functioning normally. Kidney complications are preventable if measures to keep blood pressure at check are adopted from the start.
- Thickened, narrowed or torn blood vessels in the eyes. This can result in vision loss.This also is a preventable complication,if the spikes in blood pressure over the years is avoided.
- Metabolic syndrome. This syndrome is a cluster of disorders of your body’s metabolism, including increased waist circumference; high triglycerides; low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol; high blood pressure and insulin resistence. These conditions make you more likely to develop diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Maintaining the blood pressure at check during the years prevents these complications in later years.
- Trouble with memory or understanding. Uncontrolled high blood pressure may also affect your ability to think, remember and learn. Trouble with memory or understanding concepts is more common in people with high blood pressure. Repeated damage to the brain cells by high blood pressures can be prevented by managing blood pressure from the start by various lifestyle changes.
- Neurological complications like dementia (Memory loss),can also be prevented by avoiding undue surge in BP over the years.
Lifestyle changes can help you control and prevent high blood pressure along with the blood pressure medications advised by your doctor. Here’s what you can do:
- Eat healthy foods. Eat a heart-healthy diet. Avoid saturated fats and trans fats.
- Decrease the salt in your diet.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Keeping a healthy weight, or losing weight if you’re overweight or obese, can help you control your high blood pressure and lower your risk of related health problems.
- Increase physical activity. Regular physical activity can help lower your blood pressure, manage stress, reduce your risk of several health problems and keep your weight under control.
- Limit alcohol. Even if you’re healthy, alcohol can raise your blood pressure. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
- Don’t smoke. Quitting smoking is the only way to prevent complications.
- Manage stress. Reduce stress as much as possible.
- Monitor your blood pressure at home.
- Control blood pressure during pregnancy. If you’re a woman with high blood pressure, discuss with your doctor how to control your blood pressure during pregnancy.
Regular visits to your doctor and getting the right tests done is important. They can detect irregularities in your blood pressure early on.
It’s vital to pay attention. This is especially true when it starts to show up with problems in other parts of your body.
Pay attention to your body and take care of yourself.
-Dr Prerna Gaur