About half of all Americans have high blood pressure (hypertension), a chronic medical problem that dramatically increases your risks of heart disease, stroke, and other serious medical problems. But even though hypertension is common, many Americans don’t know they have high blood pressure, nor do they understand how their blood pressure can influence their health.
A top-rated cardiovascular specialist in Port St. Lucie, Florida, Anthony B. Lewis MD, FACC, helps patients at TLC Medical Group, Inc. understand the effects of hypertension and take important steps to manage their blood pressure. In this post, Dr. Lewis and his team review the critical link between high blood pressure and heart disease.
High blood pressure 101
Blood pressure is a pretty simple concept: It’s simply the pressure your blood exerts on the walls of your arteries while blood is circulating. Normal blood pressure is considered to be pressure that’s lower than 120/80 mmHg (millimeters of mercury, the unit used to measure blood pressure.) Measurements exceeding 120/80 mmHg are considered to be high.
Many people don’t understand how high blood pressure damages their heart and other organs, but again, the reason is simple: When your blood pressure is high, your organs are subjected to that higher pressure, too, and over time, the excess pressure can damage those organs.
High blood pressure becomes more common with age, but there are lots of other factors that also increase your risk, including:
- Unhealthy diet
- Physical inactivity
- Family history of hypertension or cardiovascular disease
Taking steps to correct modifiable risk factors is one of the most important things you can do to prevent high blood pressure and its complications.
How hypertension contributes to heart disease
Your heart is one of the organs that’s affected by the increase in pressure inside your arteries. Elevated blood pressure causes the heart to work harder to circulate blood. Over time, the extra strain on your heart muscle can cause the muscle tissue to thicken and stiffen, weakening the heart and increasing the risk of heart failure.
But that’s not the only link between high blood pressure and heart disease. High blood pressure also damages the inside lining of your arteries, making it easy for sticky cholesterol deposits to take hold. Over time, cholesterol deposits form plaques that block circulation and narrow your arteries. This is a chronic condition called atherosclerosis, a leading cause of heart disease.
Atherosclerosis can affect any artery in your body, including the coronary arteries. When these arteries are narrowed or blocked, it causes coronary artery disease (CAD), along with symptoms like chest pain, heart damage, and heart attacks.
Managing high blood pressure
High blood pressure can have serious consequences, but fortunately, it can be managed. Dr. Lewis tailors therapy for each patient, typically combining medication with lifestyle changes to improve your blood pressure and your overall health, too.
High blood pressure is a chronic medical condition that requires ongoing management. If you have high blood pressure, call 772-200-3829 or request an appointment online with the team at TLC Medical Group to learn how we can help.