High blood pressure is the most common chronic condition in the U.S. yet it is also the most easily treated through medication and lifestyle changes. However, when people with high blood pressure don’t take their medication or make lifestyle changes to lower blood pressure, the results can be deadly.
Health Dangers of Untreated High Blood Pressure
Untreated high blood pressure can cause damage to the blood vessels, arteries and vital organs in the body. Many times people do not take high blood pressure seriously, which can, over time, lead to life-threatening conditions. Untreated high blood pressure can lead to:
• Aneurysms – Weakening of blood vessels can occur from increased blood pressure and cause blood vessels to form a bulge known as an aneurysm. Aneurysms, over time, can burst and become life-threatening.
• Damage of the arteries – Untreated blood pressure can damage arteries over time and cause atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) which can result in heart attack or stroke.
• Stroke – High blood pressure can cause damage to blood vessels leading to the brain resulting in slower blood flow to the brain or a blood vessel bursting in the brain, causing a stroke.
• Heart failure – High blood pressure causes the heart muscle to work harder and over time the heart muscle thickens. Over time, the thickened heart muscle has trouble keeping up the blood flow and the result can be heart failure.
• Memory loss – High blood pressure has been linked to memory loss and trouble concentrating and learning.
• Kidney problems – When blood pressure is high, it can damage or weaken blood vessels in the kidneys and prevent them from functioning properly.
• Vision Loss – High blood pressure can cause damage to the blood vessels in the eyes which can cause loss of vision.
What is Considered High Blood Pressure?
Guidelines for blood pressure are:
Normal – 120/80
Pre-hypertension – Upper number of 120 to 139 and a lower number of 80 to 89
Hypertension – Upper number of 140 to 159 and a lower number of 90 to 99
Severe Hypertension – Upper number is 160 or higher and a lower number is over 100
Both the systolic (upper number) and diastolic (lower number) numbers do not have to be high in order for it to be considered high blood pressure. If either number runs high on a regular basis, it is time to see a doctor.
Many doctors will now begin to treat patients in the pre-hypertension stage because in most cases it will rise with age. The sooner high blood pressure is treated, the less damage will occur to blood vessels and arteries.
High blood pressure may be a common disease but it does not have to be deadly if it is treated properly. Have your blood pressure checked at least once a year, more often if it is high, and see a doctor for treatment if it continues to run higher than normal. With proper treatment, high blood pressure can be managed so you can live a long, healthy life.
MayoClinic.com “High blood pressure (hypertension)” Retrieved July 20, 2010.