Blood pressure is the force of blood that travels through your arteries. If pressure is too high, it can damage your blood vessels and organs in your body. The higher your blood pressure is, and the longer it stays untreated, the greater your risk for serious medical problems, including:
- Heart failure. High blood pressure puts extra demand on the heart. Over time, the heart grows bigger to make up for the extra work and it eventually weakens. Heart failure occurs when the weakened heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs.High blood pressure is the biggest predictor of heart failure. One study found that 90 percent of people with heart failure had high blood pressure.
- Heart attack. High blood pressure can damage the arteries that carry blood and oxygen to the heart muscle. If these vessels become narrowed and damaged, a blood clot can form and lead to a heart attack.
- Stroke. The biggest risk factor for stroke is high blood pressure. High blood pressure can damage arteries that supply blood to the brain. A clot can form and block the artery and prevent blood flow to the brain, causing a stroke. High blood pressure can also cause arteries in the brain to burst. This also results in another type of stroke called hemorrhagic or bleeding stroke.
- Kidney damage. High blood pressure can damage the arteries that supply the kidneys. This leads to kidney damage and kidney failure. This is especially dangerous because kidney damage raises blood pressure even more.
- Vision problems. High blood pressure can damage the blood vessels that supply the eye. The blood vessels can burst or bleed, causing blurry vision and blindness.
- Memory loss. High blood pressure can restrict blood flow to the brain. If too little blood reaches the brain, the brain cannot work well. One study found that this may lead to memory loss.