What are Common Complications of Hypertension?

A. Gabrenas

Common complications of hypertension, also known has high blood pressure, often include damage to the heart and blood vessels. This damage can affect not only the circulation system itself, but also the kidneys, eyes, and other areas of the body. Many complications of hypertension can be very serious, and in some cases, even fatal. Experts generally advise, however, that proper treatment of hypertension can help prevent or reduce the risk of complications.

Prolonged physical inactivity and too much dietary sodium may contribute to hypertension.
Prolonged physical inactivity and too much dietary sodium may contribute to hypertension.

When a person has hypertension, his or her heart often has to work harder than normal to pump blood throughout the body. This increased workload is one possible cause of hypertension complications. Over time, it can lead to weakening or enlargement of the heart, which can result in heart failure, where the heart is no longer able to pump sufficient amounts of blood to the body.

If hypertension is not adequately treated, it can lead to complications such as stroke or heart disease.
If hypertension is not adequately treated, it can lead to complications such as stroke or heart disease.

Some of the other common complications of hypertension are related to excessive force being placed on the arteries as blood flows through them at higher pressures. This can cause damage to the body’s blood vessels. Such damage can include aneurysms, which are weakened areas in the walls of blood vessels; these areas are at risk for rupturing, or breaking open, which can lead to a variety of serious problems throughout the body, depending on the exact blood vessels affected. For example, if an aneurysm causes a blood vessel in the brain to rupture, a person can suffer a stroke, which can be fatal. Blood vessels that rupture in or near the eyes can cause impaired vision or blindness.

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Some people may have an increased risk for aneurysm if their hypertension is the result of advanced arterial constriction.
Some people may have an increased risk for aneurysm if their hypertension is the result of advanced arterial constriction.

Hypertension can also cause narrowing of the blood vessels in the body, which can give rise to a variety of complications, again depending on the location of the affected blood vessels. For example, narrowed blood vessels leading to the kidneys can lead to renal failure, where the kidneys are no longer able to properly filter wastes out of the body. Narrowing of the arteries to the heart can lead to a heart attack. Both of these complications are very serious and can be fatal. Another possible, though less serious, complication that can be caused hypertension-related blood vessel narrowing is erectile dysfunction in men.

Vasodilators are common high blood pressure medications.
Vasodilators are common high blood pressure medications.

The common complications of hypertension usually develop over a period of time. Many experts advise that they can often be avoided or the risk greatly reduced with proper hypertension treatment. Such treatments typically aim to lower blood pressure to more normal levels and may include lifestyle changes such as losing weight, eating less salt, and quitting smoking and/or medications. Due to the fact that hypertension cannot be cured, treatment must often continue over the long term to help ensure continued protection from complications of hypertension.

Older men are at an increased risk of hypertension.
Older men are at an increased risk of hypertension.

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