Hypertensive heart disease is a medical condition that can and often does develop from high blood pressure over a period of time. It also can be defined as any one of various heart problems that occur as a direct result of high blood pressure, particularly when it is not brought and kept under control. A variety of complications with the heart can follow hypertension, which is known as "the silent killer" because it often goes undetected until serious and life-threatening health problems are experienced.
High blood pressure puts a strain on the heart muscle, which has to work harder to pump against abnormal levels of pressure in the blood vessels. Enlargement of the left ventricle can occur. This is almost always followed by a reduction in cardiac output, which is the amount of blood that the heart pumps in one minute. If high blood pressure is not brought under control, hypertensive heart disease is inevitable because of the increased work the heart is forced to do and the enlargement of its left ventricle.
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One of the conditions comprising the group of health problems known as hypertensive heart disease is congestive heart failure. Although congestive heart failure, like other cardiac problems, is a distinct condition, it nevertheless is considered hypertensive heart disease if it resulted from prolonged high blood pressure. Ischemic heart disease is another form of hypertensive heart disease. This is a condition in which an insufficient amount of blood is received by the heart. The heart pumps oxygenated blood to all tissues of the body, but it first must be supplied with the oxygenated blood.
Angina, commonly known as pain in the chest, is one of the primary symptoms of this type of hypertensive heart disease. Not only does the heart work harder and become enlarged with ongoing high blood pressure, the muscle itself can also thicken. When the muscle thickens, its need for oxygen will increase, requiring an increased supply of oxygenated blood to satisfy the abnormal demands. All of these complications can culminate in a heart attack. Thickening of the blood vessel walls that occurs with prolonged high blood pressure is another form of hypertensive heart disease, a leading cause of sickness and death in many people.