Health Threats From High Blood Pressure

Health threats diagram

High blood pressure threatens your health and quality of life

In most cases, the damage done by high blood pressure (HBP, or hypertension) takes place over time. Left undetected (or uncontrolled), high blood pressure can lead to:

  • Heart attack — High blood pressure damages arteries that can become blocked and prevent blood flow to the heart muscle.
  • Stroke — High blood pressure can cause blood vessels in the brain to clog more easily or even burst.
  • Heart failure — The increased workload from high blood pressure can cause the heart to enlarge and fail to supply blood to the body.
  • Kidney disease or failure — High blood pressure can damage the arteries around the kidneys and interfere with their ability to filter blood effectively.
  • Vision loss — High blood pressure can strain or damage blood vessels in the eyes.
  • Sexual dysfunction — High blood pressure can lead to erectile dysfunction in men or lower libido in women. 
  • Angina — Over time, high blood pressure can lead to heart disease or microvascular disease (MVD). Angina, or chest pain, is a common symptom.
  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD) — Atherosclerosis caused by high blood pressure can cause a narrowing of arteries in the legs, arms, stomach and head, causing pain or fatigue.

Download the consequences of HBP infographic: English (PDF) | Spanish (PDF) | Traditional Chinese (PDF)

Can hypertension cause other problems?

When your blood pressure is too high for too long, it damages your blood vessels – and LDL (bad) cholesterol begins to accumulate along tears in your artery walls. This increases the workload of your circulatory system while decreasing its efficiency.

As a result, high blood pressure puts you at greater risk for developing life-changing and potentially life-threating conditions.

See how HBP damages heart

Your best protection is knowledge, management and prevention

High blood pressure and hypertensive crisis

If your blood pressure readings suddenly exceed 180/120 mm Hg, wait five minutes and then test your blood pressure again. If your readings are still unusually high, contact your doctor immediately. You could be experiencing a hypertensive crisis.

High blood pressure and metabolic syndrome (insulin resistance syndrome)

Metabolic syndrome refers to a cluster of risk factors, including high blood pressure, that raises the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and other health problems. It is diagnosed when any three of these risk factors are present:

  • High blood glucose (sugar)
  • Low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol in the blood
  • High levels of triglycerides in the blood
  • Large waist circumference or “apple-shaped” body
  • High blood pressure

Download the metabolic syndrome fact sheet (PDF).


HBP Survivor Stories

Sponsor

Bayer Consumer Health, maker of Coricidin® HBP, is a proud sponsor of the AHA High Blood Pressure Web content area.

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