What effects can high blood pressure have on your health?
When untreated, high blood pressure can have a variety of serious health effects for the people it affects. Worryingly, many people with high blood pressure simply are not aware of their condition until it begins to cause negative health effects.
In this guide, we’ll look at the effects of high blood pressure on your health, the role of high blood pressure in the development of heart disease and its significant role in strokes, heart failure and other serious health issues.
Hardening of arteries
You may have heard of people’s arteries ‘hardening’ due to high blood pressure. The process of hardening is called atherosclerosis and involves deposits of plaque – fatty deposits on the walls of arteries – blocking blood flow.
As plaque build up over time, the amount of space that blood has to flow within your body’s arteries decreases. This can reduce the amount of blood that reaches many of your vital organs and lead to conditions such as coronary heart disease and angina.
Coronary heart disease
As mentioned earlier, the fatty deposits left inside your arteries can slow blood flow and make it more difficult for oxygen to travel to your vital organs. People with high blood pressure are more likely than average to develop coronary heart disease.
The effects of coronary heart disease often aren’t immediate, but can develop over then long term. People with coronary heart disease are more likely than others to develop angina, heart arrhythmias or suffer from heart failure.
Angina is a serious pain that results from a lack of oxygen-rich blood reaching your vital heart muscles. It’s a serious health condition that can result in severe pain in a variety of areas, including the beck, back, jaw and arms.
Often, angina is a direct effect of coronary heart disease. People with elevated blood pressure are more likely to develop the plaque build-up in arteries that leads to both angina and coronary heart disease.
The kidneys are some of the most important organs in the body, removing fluid and waste that accumulates over time. High blood pressure reduces your kidneys’ ability to remove fluid and waste, causing a compounding effect on your blood pressure.
Extremely high blood pressure can result in serious damage to your kidneys and, in some cases, even kidney failure. Kidney failure occurs in stages and can be a serious health condition that’s significantly worsened by high blood pressure.
Because of the effects of high blood pressure on blood flow through arteries, serious high blood pressure can significantly increase the change of heart failure. This is one of the most serious effects of high blood pressure and a major cause of death in most Western countries.
Stroke is one of the most common causes of death, and high blood pressure is one of the most serious risk factors for stroke. Even blood pressure that is slightly above a healthy level can double your stroke risk; as a condition, it contributes to 70% of all strokes.
In addition to the life-threatening effects listed above, high blood pressure can have a significant effect on many men’s sexual performance. High blood pressure makes arteries narrower, resulting in difficulty achieving erection for many men.
Approximately 25% of all men with high blood pressure have erectile dysfunction that’s directly related to their blood pressure. Many women also suffer a variety of sexual effects, such as reduced vaginal lubrication, that are caused by high blood pressure.