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What are the Effects of Blood Pressure on the Body?

Article Details
  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 05 July 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Blood is carried through the entire body through arteries, feeding organs, providing oxygen, and eliminating carbon dioxide. The force of the blood through the arteries is known as blood pressure. If blood pressure is normal, the effects on the body are generally positive, as blood is moving at a pressure that provides adequate flow without undue stress. When pressure grows too high or low, the effects of blood pressure on the body may have dangerous results throughout the body.

Blood pressure is usually described through a pair of numbers that represent the systolic and diastolic pressures. Systolic pressure is measured during each beat of the heart, when pressure is at its maximum. Diastolic describes the minimum pressure and is taken at the resting point between heartbeats. A blood pressure reading is usually described in terms of systolic over diastolic pressure, as in 120/80.

Hypotension, or low blood pressure, often occurs when blood volume is low. Some of the early effects of blood pressure when it is low include dizziness and faintness or numbness. When low, the main effects of blood pressure are caused by organs not receiving adequate blood supply. A lack of blood to the heart can quickly cause angina or heart attacks, while insufficient blood to the kidneys prevents them from eliminating waste and can cause a dangerous influx of waste components into the bloodstream.

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Despite this, the effects of blood pressure that is slightly low can actually be beneficial. Athletes and people with a high level of physical fitness tend to have slightly below average blood pressure. According to studies, risk of heart disease, stroke, and organ failure are lower in people with low blood pressure.

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, can be a result of increased blood volume or narrow and blocked arteries. The blood has to push harder to get through arteries, causing further damage to its passageways. In chronic cases, hypertension can cause bulges in the arteries known as aneurysms, as well as significantly increase risk of heart disease and heart failure. In the brain, effects of blood pressure that is too high include increased risk of stroke, dementia, and blood clots.

It is not uncommon for blood pressure to fluctuate temporarily due to certain conditions, such as increased exercise, illness, dietary changes, or even stress. Effects of blood pressure on the body from these temporary shifts are generally mild, such as getting dizzy after skipping a few meals, and do not usually cause permanent damage. When temporary issues become chronic problems, however, the risk for negative effects increases.

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