Understanding The Effects Of Hypertension
High blood pressure (BP) or hypertension is a common chronic condition. According to a recent study, almost half of all Americans have high blood pressure. Of the reported hypertension cases in the study, only 39.64% were classified as well-managed with medication. For the many people that leave hypertension untreated, a domino effect of health complications can occur that go far beyond coronary concerns.
1. Poor coronary outcomes
Since high blood pressure directly impacts the arteries, widespread damage throughout the circulatory system is not uncommon for people with uncontrolled hypertension. Over time, the condition can cause arterial walls to harden, making blood flow more difficult. Likewise, an increased risk of aneurysms, or a rupture in the arteries, is possible. Damage can continue progressing to the heart, causing problems like an enlarged left heart, coronary artery disease (CAD), and even heart failure.
2. Weakened kidney function
Another area of the body impacted by high BP is the renal system. The kidneys clean blood in the body, removing waste and excess fluid. Pervasive scarring in the blood vessels inside the kidney, known as glomerulosclerosis, can reduce function and make waste removal harder. In extreme cases, kidney failure is possible. Additionally, if hypertension is present with diabetes, the risk of kidney damage is higher.
3. Vision problems
Once again, overworked blood vessels can create unexpected problems throughout the body, including the eyes. The small vessels in the retinas can get damaged to the point that bleeding occurs in the eye. The condition is known as retinopathy and can cause blurred vision or blindness in more severe cases. Optic neuropathy or nerve damage is also possible, which can also cause vision loss. Finally, fluid buildup under the retina can occur, impacting a person’s ability to see.
4. Cognitive decline
Most people don’t associate a sharp mind with healthy blood pressure, but the correlation does exist. Although not all forms of dementia are caused by hypertension, researchers have found a link between high blood pressure and Alzheimer’s. Although more research is needed, the paper noted that people with elevated diastolic blood pressure were more at risk for developing the degenerative disease.
Take back control
No official cure exists for hypertension, but people can still make an effort to control symptoms. Simple behavioral and lifestyle changes can make a noticeable difference in many cases. Losing weight to reach a healthy body mass index (BMI), eating a low-fat and low-sodium diet, and working with a physician to manage BP are critical actions for better health.
Don’t delay better health
Although some segments of the population are more prone to developing hypertension, people still have control over individual outcomes. Taking a proactive approach to health can aid in preventing hypertension from progressing to the point that other systems within the body are affected. Individuals concerned with the risk of high BP or best practices for controlling the condition should speak with a healthcare professional.