The complications of hypertension include :
- Hardening of the arteries (Atherosclerosis) : If blood pressure is not controlled and the circulating levels of fat (cholesterol) in the blood is high, it might lead to increased deposition of fat on the walls of the arteries (Atherosclerosis). Widespread narrowing of the blood vessels affects the function of vital organs like heart, brain and kidneys. So, the blood pressure as well as cholesterol levels need to be kept under control.
- Heart damage due to high blood pressure (Enlarged Heart): High blood pressure, there is an increased load on the heart. In order to pump blood against this increased load the heart compensates by increasing its muscle mass (left ventricular hypertrophy). Ultimately, the heart enlarges resulting in a decline in function and hence the heart is not able to pump the blood. This condition in which the heart, thus tends to fail is known as heart failure.
It is important to note that the enlarged heart due to high blood pressure can come back to its normal size with therapy.
- Angina and heart attack : When the arteries supplying the heart are clogged because of fat deposition, blood supply to some parts of the heart may be reduced or completely cut off. This results in damage to the heart muscles and chest pain.
- Brain damage due to high blood pressure (Stroke) :Stroke in hypertensive patients may be due to clotting of blood in blood vessels of the brain (cerebral thrombosis) or due to rupture of small dilatations, called berry aneurysms, in the blood vessels of the brain (intracerebral hemorrhage). The area of brain thus deprived of blood supply may lead to paralysis.
- Kidney damage due to high blood pressure : High blood pressure over a period of time causes narrowing and thickening of the arteries including the arteries of kidneys. This in turn, affects the normal functioning of the kidneys resulting in decreased elimination of waste products. These waste products accumulate in the blood causing damage to various organs in the body. Early and proper control of blood pressure can prevent this complication. It is advisable to control the blood pressure around 130/85 mmHg to prevent further damage, if already occurred.