How Does High Blood Pressure Affect My Overall Health?

high blood pressure

Managing your blood pressure is crucial for your overall health to avoid more serious health issues in the future. Also called hypertension, high blood pressure (HBP) is a common problem. In the US, roughly 68 million people have high blood pressure, according to the CDC. Slightly higher than normal blood pressure, called prehypertension, affects 28% of American adults. These individuals are more likely to develop hypertension later in life.

As the CDC notes, “high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease.” Here’s a look at how high blood pressure can affect your overall health.

High blood pressure and PAD

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is a circulatory problem where the narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to the limbs. Caused by atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, PAD affects about 8.5 million people in the United States alone. Hypertension can contribute to atherosclerosis, and it is sometimes related to blood clots, which is a cause of PAD.

Hypertension and heart attack or stroke

Atherosclerosis, which typically happens slowly, interrupts blood flow through the heart muscle, which means less oxygen and nutrients reach this organ. The result of this process is a heart attack. HBP can also lead to heart failure if your heart becomes enlarged from having to work overtime to get oxygenated blood to your body.

HBP can damage blood vessels located in the brain. If the brain’s blood flow is cut off, and the brain does not receive enough oxygenated blood, a stroke can occur.

HBP and kidney disease

High blood pressure and chronic kidney disease (CKD) are also linked. According to the National Kidney Foundation

“Over time, high blood pressure can damage blood vessels throughout your body. This can reduce the blood supply to important organs like the kidneys. High blood pressure also damages the tiny filtering units in your kidneys. As a result, the kidneys may stop removing wastes and extra fluid from your blood. The extra fluid in your blood vessels may build up and raise blood pressure even more.”

Steps to take to prevent high blood pressure

There are some lifestyle changes to make in order to keep blood pressure at normal levels. 

  • Maintain regular doctor appointments. Those with HBP should regularly have their blood pressure checked and listen to doctor’s orders about any medications needed.
  • Exercise regularly, including daily walks.
  • Stop all tobacco use.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Maintain normal body weight.

To learn more about the treatment of PAD and other vascular diseases, visit our site.

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