High Blood Pressure Dangers
Everyone wants a strong heart. But sometimes it can grow too strong for its own good. When your blood pressure rises, your heart must work extra hard to pump blood. The heart reacts by growing bigger – just as your biceps would if you started lifting weights. Unfortunately, bigger isn’t better where your heart is concerned. If the heart wall grows too large, it reduces the space inside your left ventricle (that’s the chamber within the heart that pumps blood into the bloodstream). This condition is known as left ventricular hypertrophy.
The enlarged heart muscle now needs additional blood to keep itself healthy. But because hypertension can lead to hardening of the arteries—especially the arteries in the heart itself—the muscle sometimes can’t get enough blood. The heart then becomes weaker, not stronger, since it can’t feed itself properly.
The result is a host of problems, ranging from chest pain called angina to irregular heartbeats, heart attack, and heart failure. Left ventricular hypertrophy occurs more often in men and overweight people, both of whom are more prone to heart disease to begin with. But when women develop the disorder, the results can be deadly. Researchers have discovered that women with left ventricular hypertrophy may be four times more likely to die of any cause (even those not related to heart problems) than women without the condition.
Reducing high blood pressure may stop dangerous growth of the heart muscle and may even reduce the muscle’s size. So it’s essential that you work to lower your pressure to avoid further problems from left ventricular hypertrophy.
An enlarged heart is not the only possibility of damage. Your eyes also can be affected. Your eyes are very sensitive to hypertension, since they have extremely fine arteries feeding blood to them. Left unchecked, high blood pressure can greatly damage these delicate blood vessels. The walls of the arteries grow thicker so that they can handle the additional pressure from the bloodstream. This in turn causes the arteries to narrow. When this happens, blockages can occur – or the arteries may hemorrhage, causing blood to leak into the eyes. Either way, this can harm the optic nerves and cause partial loss of vision.
The higher your blood pressure and the longer it’s left untreated, the higher the possibility of eye damage. Fortunately, lowering your pressure can actually help reverse some of the harm. Be sure to tell your eye doctor about your condition, so he can monitor your eyes for signs of damage.