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High Blood Pressure Consequences

Know the Risk Factors of Hypertension

High blood pressure is a silent killer -- called so because there could be no symptoms for years. When you visit your physician each year, be sure that a blood pressure check is part of the exam. If you are prone to high blood pressure because of genetics, smoking, diet or exercise, you should have your blood pressure checked more often. Depending on your health insurance plan, it may cover checkups for blood pressure and other problems.

Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure could cripple or kill you if not caught early enough and if not rectified. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, more than 72 million people in the United States age 20 or older have high blood pressure. Hypertension has affected 30 percent more people in the past decade. A person with prehypertension — blood pressure ranging from 120 to 139mm Hg — has a higher risk of developing high blood pressure.

Many categories of people have a higher risk of developing hypertension:

~ Men over 45
~ Women over 55
~ African-Americans
~ People whose close relatives have high blood pressure
~ Overweight people
~ Those with obstructive sleep apnea
~ Smokers
~ Those who have a high-salt diet
~ People chronically using heavy alcohol
~ Those with a sedentary lifestyle
~ Those who are subject to emotional and mental stress, whether because of family issues or work issues

If you fit into any of these categories, have your blood pressure checked more often than once per year.

Consequences of High Blood Pressure

Hypertension could affect any one or all of the following body parts or functions. If you feel you have any damage due to high blood pressure, contact your physician right away, as these could quickly turn into emergencies.

Eye Damage: Retinopathy — damage to the blood vessels that supply blood to the retina — is often caused by high blood pressure. Symptoms may include blurred vision, bleeding in the eye and complete loss of vision.

Artery Damage: The arteries have a smooth inner lining and are elastic, making it easier for blood to travel freely. Hypertension puts excess pressure on the arteries and could cause them to narrow, making the walls thick and stiff -- which can ultimately result in atherosclerosis. It could also block the flow of blood to essential organs and muscles.

Furthermore, if an artery is weak, hypertension could cause you to have an aneurysm — a bulge in the artery. If the aneurysm ruptures, and it is in the “right” place, this could severely impact your quality of living or could take your life.

Heart Damage: Hypertension could lead to coronary artery disease. This disease affects the arteries that supply blood to the heart. High blood pressure could also cause your heart to become enlarged on the left side or to fail completely.

Brain Damage: Your brain requires blood to operate properly. Without the proper blood supply, you could suffer from transient ischemic attack (TIA), often referred to as a mini stroke. You could also suffer from a stroke if the brain is deprived of oxygen and nutrients that are carried in the blood. Dementia or mild cognitive impairment are further consequences of brain disorders.

Hypertension could affect your kidneys, causing them to scar or completely fail. It could also cause sexual dysfunction due to damage to the lining of the blood vessels, which limits blood flow — enough so that men cannot maintain an erection. In women, it results in vaginal dryness and a decrease in sexual desire.

 
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