What Is Hypertension?
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, means there is too much pressure in your blood vessels. This can damage your blood vessels and cause problems in your brain, eyes, heart and kidneys. Anyone can develop high blood pressure, but it becomes more common as you get older.
High blood pressure is a common condition in which the long-term force of the blood against your vessel walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease.
Blood pressure is determined both by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries are, the higher your blood pressure will be.
You can have high blood pressure (hypertension) for years without any symptoms. Even without symptoms, damage to blood vessels and your heart continues and can be detected. Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of serious health problems, including heart attack and stroke.
High blood pressure generally develops over many years, and it affects nearly everyone eventually. Fortunately, high blood pressure can be easily detected. Once once you know that you have high blood pressure, you can work with your doctor to control it.
- Family history
- Being overweight or obese
- Not being physically active
- Using tobacco
- Too much salt (sodium) in your diet
- Too little potassium in your diet
- Too little vitamin D in your diet
High blood pressure alone has no signs or symptoms, even if blood pressure readings show extremely high levels.
Blood pressure increases with age. More than 80% of people over 65 have high blood pressure.
The excessive pressure on your artery walls caused by high blood pressure can damage your blood vessels, as well as organs in your body. The higher your blood pressure and the longer it goes uncontrolled, the greater the damage can be.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to:
- Heart attack or stroke
- Heart failure
- Weakened and narrowed blood vessels in your kidneys
- Thickened, narrowed or torn blood vessels in the eyes
- Metabolic syndrome
- Trouble with memory or understanding
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