Uncontrolled high blood pressure (hypertension) is associated with several health conditions. Hypertension is treatable, so this means that the following diseases can be prevented or delayed.
1. Heart attacks. Elevated blood pressure is related to atherosclerosis, which, by narrowing the coronary arteries, can lead to heart attacks. Heart attacks can cause congestive heart failure and sudden death.
2. Impaired vision. Hypertension can cause something called hypertensive retinopathy. This means that the retina (where the images are formed in the eye) can get damaged by chronic high blood pressure and can lead to impaired vision and blindness.
3. Amputation of limbs. High blood pressure can lead to the amputations of limbs, specially feet and legs. The problem starts with the atherosclerosis in the arteries of the limbs which eventually leads to obstruction and lack of blood supply to the feet and legs, especially. Hypertension is related to the atherosclerosis of the limb arteries, just as with the heart.
4. Stroke. The brain can also be the victim of atherosclerosis, which is related with hypertension (as we have just seen). In addition to this, if the blood pressure becomes too high, it can lead to bleeding inside the brain, by rupture of the arteries.
5. Kidney disease. The kidneys are very sensitive. Elevated blood pressure for a long time can cause scarring of the kidney tissue to the point that it cannot perform its functions anymore. The kidneys are important for sodium and potassium control, blood pressure control, generation of red blood cells, vitamin D and calcium metabolism and acid-base balance.
Marco A. Ramos MD