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PALESTINE, March 8, 2014— Over a long period of time, high blood pressure can have devastating effects on a person’s body. Some effects of high blood pressure include:
Enlarged heart: Prolonged, “untreated” high blood pressure causes the heart muscle to enlarge as it has to work harder to push blood to vital organs of the body. Increased pressure can be tolerated for many years, but as heart muscle enlarges, it stretches and thickens, preventing it from functioning properly.
Stroke: In the brain as blood pressure increases, damage occurs to the lining of blood vessels, and little blisters may form. These aneurysms are very small but occasionally may rupture suddenly. This causes a stroke with bleeding into the brain, leading to weakness on one side of the body, loss of speech, and in some cases, death.
Uremia: Continued high blood pressure may cause increasing damage to the kidney by narrowing and thickening the arteries. This reduces the amount of fluid that the kidney can filter into the urine. Since the kidney eliminates waste products from our body, this waste now builds up, and the result can be kidney failure. Many uremic patients have to be placed on dialysis or undergo kidney transplants. It is estimated that 20% to 25% of patients who are now on dialysis started out with “slightly elevated blood pressure” which was not treated effectively.
Atherosclerosis: If blood pressure is not controlled, some of the fat that normally circulates in our body is pushed into the walls of damaged arteries. Fatty materials, called plaque, build up in the arteries like rust on the inside of a pipe. This condition, called atherosclerosis, is commonly called hardening of the arteries. Everyone develops some hardening of the arteries due to aging, even if blood pressure is normal. However, people with untreated high blood pressure get atherosclerosis and its complications at an earlier age.
Heart attack: If the arteries that supply blood to the heart, “coronary arteries”, become clogged with fatty material, the blood flow to the heart is reduced. When one of the blood vessels is completely closed off, the blood temporarily ceases to flow to that part of the heart, damaging heart muscle. This damage to heart muscle is known as a “heart attack”.
Although high blood pressure cannot be “cured”, it can usually be controlled by medication and closely following doctor’s instructions. As the above side effects indicate, it is vitally important to manage blood pressure levels to prevent serious complications.
Information provided by Palestine Resource Center for Independent Living, 421 Avenue A, Palestine, Texas, 903-729-7505.
© 2017 Tomlinson-Leis Communications L.P.