How High Blood Pressure Affects Heart

ID-100147387High blood pressure has profound and serious affects on heart as well as in the vascular system. Hypertension is a risk factor for atherosclerosis (thickening of arteries, mainly due to deposition of cholesterol and other materials on the walls of blood vessels). Hypertension is also risk factor for heart failure, coronary artery disease (CAD), peripheral arterial disease (PAD), stroke, as well as kidney diseases such as renal/kidney failure.

How high blood pressure causes changes in heart?

If you are a patient of high blood pressure (hypertension), the most likely cause of your death is due to heart disease (congestive heart failure, heart attack or myocardial infarction). Hypertension causes structural and functional adaptations which leads to hypertrophy (enlargement) of left ventricle of heart (left ventricle is responsible of pumping of oxygen rich blood to various tissues and body parts), diastolic dysfunction (problem with filling of heart or diastole), congestive heart failure (CHF), as well as abnormalities of blood flow mainly due to changes in the coronary arteries (atherosclerosis) and micro-vascular disease.

Abnormalities of diastolic function may be asymptomatic in a hypertensive individual and lead slowly towards heart failure. Approximately 30% of patients with congestive heart failure (CHF) have normal systolic function but abnormal diastolic function. That is why abnormal diastolic function is considered an early sign of hypertension-related heart problems, which may become worse due to left ventricular hypertrophy and ischemia of heart muscles. For every hypertensive and asymptomatic individuals diastolic function should be evaluated by noninvasive methods like echocardiography and radionuclide angiography, which will help detect early heart diseases and adequate preventive measures taken.

Genetic and other factors in hypertensive heart disease:

Both genetic as well as many other factors contribute to left ventricular hypertrophy in hypertensive individuals. Left ventricular hypertrophy can be diagnosed by electrocardiography (ECG) and echocardiography. Echocardiography is better tool for determining the extent of left ventricular hypertrophy as well as wall thickness. Left ventricular hypertrophy is a risk factor for sudden death, CHD (coronary heart disease), stroke, and congestive heart failure. Prompt and adequate treatment to control of hypertension and reduce other risk factors can reverse left ventricular hypertrophy and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as sudden death due to heart disease caused by high blood pressure.


“Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /”.

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