High Blood Pressure
Healthy arteries have smooth inner walls. Your blood flows through them without a problem. The blood vessels stay strong and flexible.
But when you have high blood pressure, blood flows through your arteries with too much force, even though you can't feel it. Over time, this Reference pressure damages the walls of your arteries Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window. They aren't smooth anymore. They get rough spots on them where fat and calcium start to build up. This buildup is called Reference plaque Opens New Window (say "plak").
Plaque is part of Reference atherosclerosis, sometimes called "hardening of the arteries." Over time, the plaque narrows the artery and blocks blood flow through it.
Atherosclerosis makes your arteries narrower. It also makes them stiffer. Blood can't flow through them as easily. This lack of good blood flow starts to damage some of the organs in your body.
This damage doesn't happen all at once. It happens slowly over time. But you can't tell that it's happening, because you don't feel anything. It can lead to:
- Reference Coronary artery disease Opens New Window and Reference heart attack Opens New Window.
- Reference Heart failure Opens New Window.
- Reference Stroke Opens New Window.
- Reference Kidney failure Opens New Window.
- Reference Peripheral arterial disease Opens New Window.
- Eye damage (retinopathy) that can lead to vision loss and blindness.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference November 12, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine|