About half of individuals with untreated hypertension may die of heart disease due to poor supply of blood to different parts of body. The changes in heart may occur gradually and progressively but are not immediate.
Effects of hypertension on heart are:
- Coronary and ischemic heart disease:
It is a condition that occurs due to narrowing or stiffness with decreased elasticity of arteries supplying blood to heart when hypertension is left untreated. Untreated hypertension may cause damage to the inner lining of arteries, leading to formation of clots/plaques. The complications can be heart failure, heart attack.
Symptoms can be left sided chest pain, radiating to left arm, shoulder, back, associated with nausea, dizziness, sweating, shortness of breath, fatigue, pounding heart, etc.
2. Left ventricular hypertrophy:
This is nothing but enlarged left side of heart, that actively pumps blood to all the parts of the body. The walls of left chamber of heart may thicken and stiffen due to increased workload of heart to pump blood effectively to the body, to overcome the resistance offered by the high blood pressure. It may lead to heart failure, sudden cardiac death, if left untreated.
3. Heart failure:
Untreated hypertension may cause the muscles of heart to weaken, decreasing its efficiency to pump blood effectively leading to heart failure eventually. This can lead to kidney dysfunction, leading to fluid collection in the body, including around heart.
Symptoms include difficulty in taking breaths, swelling of ankles and feet, bloated abdomen, increase frequency of urination at night, etc.
Testing needs to be done when any of the symptoms are experienced based on history and physical examination finding. The tests are Chest Xray, Electrocardiogram (ECG), Echocardiogram (ECHO), cardiac stress test, Coronary angiogram, etc.
Treatment options for hypertension include
- Medications to control hypertension.
- Regular exercise.
- Healthy diet with restricted carbohydrates and fats, low sodium diet, fiber and potassium rich foods.
- Avoiding smoking and alcohol consumption
It is also very important to go for routine medical checkups to the treating doctor, monitor BP readings regularly
Dr. Divya Teja Pasupuleti