Hypertension

28. August 2018

What are the effects on the body?

What are the implications of high blood pressure?

First of all: High blood pressure is frequently linked with life-threatening strokes or a heart attack. The risk of undiscovered high blood pressure over a long period of time is that damage to various organs may develop and manifest themselves in different ways. In principle, the following applies: High blood pressure makes the heart work harder. The heart muscles ensure that all organs are supplied with oxygen and nutrients. The longer the blood pressure manifests itself at a high level, the more likely it is for the left heart chamber to thicken, which has the consequent that the heart muscle can only be supplied insufficiently with blood. The risk of heart damage is increased significantly, heart failure or a stroke are more likely to occur.

However, one risk is not only clearly affirmed in relation to the heart. High blood pressure often leads to arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), which may develop into blocked arteries. Circulation disorders, heart muscle weakness, impaired kidney function, right up to organ failure, as well as a heart attack or stroke, are therefore practically pre-programmed. At least, if treatment is not started at an early stage. The latent risk already exists with high blood pressure, in areas, which are not necessarily regarded as needing treatment. This is why it is so crucial to clearly specify possible risk factors (obesity, lifestyle, stress, environmental influences, alcohol, nicotine, etc.) and make a change.

What makes high blood pressure so dangerous?

The danger with high blood pressure is so severe, because it does not show clear symptoms at the beginning or over several years, which would cause alarm bells to sound. Regarding the question of which blood pressure must be regarded as being dangerous, it is noted that the boundary values are fluid. This means that even blood pressure values in the normal range can already increase the risk of certain diseases considerably. In to this, many issues in this area have not been conclusively researched or evaluated yet, which led to the boundary values for the individual stages of high blood pressure being changed on a regular basis in the past years. It is frequently older people who are affected, however, numbers indicate that in some industrialised countries, a larger proportion of children are already displaying high blood pressure. Correlation and causality cannot always be kept apart in this conflict situation, but the fact is, that an unhealthy lifestyle (little exercise, unhealthy and one-sided diet, stress) already leads to significantly increased values in younger years, which already require treatment.

Digression: How high blood pressure occurs

Every heartbeat leads to blood entering the blood vessels. This creates pressure, which presses on the vessel wall from the inside. The higher the blood pressure is, the faster hardening of the arteries can occur, as the elasticity declines are a result of high blood pressure. As a consequence of this, the exchange of blood and oxygen is impaired, the heart needs to use more and more energy, in order to transport the nutrients to their destination. This increases the risk of life-threatening diseases, such as a stroke, heart attack or arteriosclerosis – practically any other organ can also be damaged, with the eyes, brain and kidneys being in danger at an early stage.