While the body is often compared to a machine, this is really not a useful comparison. For example, the ‘eat less, move more’ school of dieting through calorie counting always seems to ignore the fact that the body is responsive and reacts to a starvation diet by hanging onto every excess pound as though it will never be fed again, no matter how many excess pounds it already has! But when it comes to blood pressure, the mechanical comparison is much more realistic – the body does not respond to high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) by adjusting the size of veins and arteries or lessening the amount of blood circulating through the body, both of which would reduce pressure on arterial and venous walls. Keep reading to find the dangers of untreated hypertension.
Due to the body’s inability to adjust to the problems of high blood pressure, untreated hypertension can be a major problem in several parts of the body. Let us take a look:
The Heart of the Matter
Untreated Hypertension means that your blood pressure is too high. Your heart, being the body’s blood pump, has to deal with a higher volume of blood than it is designed for. Like a hose pipe expected to operate at unreasonably high pressures for a long time, it can become damaged from having to work above optimum for long periods of time. Every part of the heart can be affected – from the valves to the ventricles, but the left ventricle, in particular, tends to become thickened over time, rather like any muscle that is overused. But overusing other muscles tends not to put you at risk of sudden fatal heart attacks…
Arteries and Veins
Your blood vessels are designed to carry a normal blood volume around your body at a measured rate. When your blood pressure is high, this means that the walls of the veins and arteries may become stretched, which weakens them. Think of blowing too much air into a balloon and then releasing it. The balloon will be saggy, with bulging areas where the rubber has been stretched beyond the point of no return. It is similar with blood vessels, especially arteries which carry high-pressure blood even in normal times – they can develop weaknesses and sagging, causing circulation issues, and even aneurysms, the term used when one of these weaknesses bursts – these are always painful, and depending on where it occurs, they can be fatal.
Eyes and Kidneys
The excess pressure in your veins and arteries can play havoc with parts of the body that rely on an adequate blood supply into the most delicate capillaries, such as the eyes and the kidneys. Vision impairment, up to full blindness, can occur, especially when the patient has diabetes. Sadly, the two conditions often go together as both can be caused by eating a poor diet, high in sugar and chemical additives, and low in nutrients. In the kidneys, the tiny capillaries work as a filter, cleaning the blood of contaminants and creating urine to carry it safely out of the body. Not only can the kidneys not cope under a high blood pressure situation, but they can actually become blocked in time, leading to complete organ failure if left untreated.
What Do You Know
Finally, blood pressure can affect the brain in ways that are only just beginning to be understood. Patients with hypertension are known to run a higher risk of TIA (so-called mini-strokes). Cognitive issues, ranging from mild, occasional forgetfulness all the way up to full-blown dementia, are now known to be caused and/or worsened by hypertension.
Treatments for hypertension these days are relatively simple, involving taking a tablet or two once or twice a day. This is so much better than the alternatives that most people do not hesitate once they realize the severity of their condition. And once it is under treatment and being controlled, there is no reason why high blood pressure should stop you from living a full and active life.