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The Effects of High Blood Pressure on Your Body
(OCTOBER 2013) For the nearly 68 million US adults with high blood pressure – that’s almost 1/3 of our adult population, “120 over 80” is the magic set of numbers that can’t be heard enough. But some patients may not fully understand why it is so important to track blood pressure or why they can’t eat as much red meat as they want.
Your physician has good reasons for restricting your diet and for the constant nagging about your blood pressure. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can have serious long and short-term effects on your body, and effectively monitoring your pressure may save your life.
Most obviously, high blood pressure can result in damage to your heart and arteries.
Increased pressure, over time, can damage the cells in your arteries and cause arterial walls to stiffen. When fats pass through the hardened walls, blockages can occur and create problems for blood flow on its way to vital organs around your body.
In your heart, high blood pressure forces the muscles that pump blood around your body to work harder. In time, the increased workflow has the potential to thicken and stiffen the left ventricle of your heart. The left ventricle delivers the blood to the rest of your body, and in this damaged state, it may not be able to do so effectively or at all. This can increase your risk for heart disease, attacks, failures or sudden death.
While your arteries and heart are the most common areas of your body associated with blood, a regular blood flow is essential to all of the vital organs including your kidneys and brain. These too can take damage from a high blood pressure.
If blood is hindered from reaching your brain through either a blocked or ruptured blood vessel, serious damage can ensue – one example of which is a stroke.
One of the most common causes of kidney failure is, in fact, high blood pressure. When main arteries become damaged or contain blockages, blood flow to the kidneys is disrupted. Without a full volume of blood, the kidneys are unable to perform their function and filter out waste and toxins. Dangerous levels of these wastes may build up and create a need for dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Lifestyle changes are often the most effective way to maintain a healthy blood pressure. Just ask your physician what you can do to improve your diet and exercise and she’ll be more than happy to provide you a wealth of options. To make sure you don’t suffer from unwarranted medical complications, you can wear a medical id bracelet alerting medical professionals that you have high blood pressure, as some medicines can exacerbate these problems.