How Does High Blood Pressure Lead to Heart Disease?
High blood pressure leads to heart disease and potentially a heart attack by causing the buildup of cholesterol and fat in the coronary arteries that serve the heart. This accumulation of material, referred to as atherosclerosis, narrows these blood vessels and hardens them, making it easier for blood clots to form. If the buildup of material or a clot completely blocks blood flow to an area of the heart, the tissue in that area can be damaged or destroyed in what’s commonly called a heart attack or myocardial infarction.
High Blood Pressure and Heart Disease Risk
Not only is high blood pressure a sign of heart disease, it can have negative health consequences throughout the body, including:
High blood pressure can cause blood vessels in the brain to leak or burst into what’s called a stroke.
Heart failure is a condition that can develop from high blood pressure, causing the heart to work too hard. Failure means the heart can no longer pump enough blood to support all of the body’s requirements.
High blood pressure can cause the blood vessels supplying the kidneys to narrow, harden and weaken. As a result, the vessels can’t supply the kidneys with the oxygen and nutrients they need, causing them to fail.
The eyes are supplied with oxygen and nutrients by tiny blood vessels. High blood pressure can damage these vessels and the retina of the eye, resulting in blurred vision or complete loss of vision.
High blood pressure can have a negative effect on sexual performance in men, including trouble achieving and maintaining an erection and reduced sexual desire. Women can also experience sexual dysfunction caused by high blood pressure, with symptoms that include vaginal dryness and a decrease in sexual arousal.
Solutions to High Blood Pressure and Heart Disease
There are steps you can take to reduce high blood pressure and heart disease risk. They include:
Within as little as one day, people who quit smoking can see a decrease in their blood pressure.
A consistent exercise routine can help you lower your blood pressure and maintain that improvement.
Reducing Sodium Consumption
Sodium’s effect on blood pressure varies from person to person. However, most people can benefit from decreasing their sodium intake.
Limit Alcohol Consumption
Drinking alcohol in moderation may lower your blood pressure. Consuming more than one or two alcoholic beverages a day, however, can raise your blood pressure.
Practicing Stress-Reduction Techniques
Reducing your stress through meditation, prayer or other techniques can help lower your blood pressure.
Learn More About High Blood Pressure and Heart Disease from Baptist Health
Take a Health Risk Assessment (HRA) questionnaire to estimate your personal health risk and identify your risk factors for heart disease.