Did you know that one out of three adults in America has high blood pressure? And, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that only about half of those nearly 75 million people have their blood pressure under control?
It’s true — high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) has become a serious medical problem in our country. And if you have high blood pressure, it’s far more serious than you might think.
While the most immediate, short-term damage done by high blood pressure might not be instantly apparent, this condition is one of the leading contributors to serious long-term health problems among Americans.
Your blood pressure is the force at which blood is being pushed against the walls of your arteries. Here are just a few ways your blood pressure can affect your body when it’s at a higher level than it should be:
It Can Damage Your Heart
The CDC notes that your heart often bears the brunt of the damage caused by high blood pressure. This is because, over time, high blood pressure can harden your arteries, which makes it more difficult for your body to get blood and oxygen to and from the heart. When that happens, these are just some of the potential outcomes:
It Can Increase Your Risk of Stroke
As we’ve previously discussed on our blog, stroke is a serious medical condition and one of the leading causes of death and long-term disability in Americans. Unfortunately, the reason why it’s so common in our country is because high blood pressure is, too.
The simple truth is this: Hypertension is the primary cause of stroke.
It Could Eventually Cause an Aneurysm
An aneurysm happens when a section of an artery’s walls are weakened and bulges. If the bulging gets too extreme, the artery can rupture and cause internal bleeding — a serious, life-threatening situation.
Though the exact causes of aneurysms are far from certain, high blood pressure has been linked to an increased risk of developing an aneurysm because of the long-term damage it can do to arteries.
It Can Lead to Kidney Failure
Sustained high blood pressure can lead to damaged blood vessels in the kidneys. Once damaged, the filtering process that occurs inside your kidneys, which helps your body rid itself of waste and toxins, becomes more difficult and less effective. Over time, this can lead to kidney disease and even kidney failure.
It Can Damage Your Eyes
One little known fact about high blood pressure is that it can have a significant impact on your eyes, specifically your retina.
The retina is found at the back of your eye, and high blood pressure can affect how well this tissue is able to function. This is because abnormal blood pressure can cause damage to the vessels in the retina — leading to double vision, dim vision, headaches, or even total vision loss.
Usually, this damage is done over time, but there are instances where very high blood pressure spikes can cause symptoms to appear suddenly. These situations are medical emergencies and should be treated as such if they ever happen to you or someone you know.
Visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine website to learn more about how blood pressure levels can affect your eyesight.
High blood pressure is a dangerous condition that affects millions of Americans young and old. Unfortunately, many people with high blood pressure don’t know that they have it. That’s why it’s important to get your blood pressure levels checked regularly and get your blood pressure in check by practicing healthy living habits. Talk to your primary care provider to learn more about your blood pressure and how you can get on track to preventing high blood pressure.