Chronic high blood pressure is not only dangerous, but it’s also deadly. Each year hypertension contributes to close to 650,000 deaths from heart disease in the United States. If you have high blood pressure, it’s crucial to see a health professional for evaluation and treatment to get it under control. Blood pressure that remains dangerously elevated puts you at risk for a number of health problems, including heart attack and stroke.

Understanding hypertension

Blood pressure is the force pressing against artery walls. It’s normal for blood pressure to rise and fall throughout the day. Blood pressure may rise during certain activities, such as physical activity, but it’s unhealthy for blood pressure to rise too high and remain that way.

Normal blood pressure is below 120/80. The top number — systolic blood pressure — is the force exerted when the heart beats, while diastolic — the bottom number — is the force exerted between heartbeats. You’re diagnosed with high blood pressure when you consistently have a reading for 130-139 over 80/89 or higher.

High blood pressure is dangerous because it forces the heart to work harder to do its job. This negatively impacts many systems in the body and causes damage to arteries. Our experts discuss common dangers of uncontrolled high blood pressure.

Hypertension hikes the risk of heart attack and stroke

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke. Each year heart attack affects more than 800,000 Americans, while stroke affects another 800,000. What’s more, 1 in 5 heart attacks is a “silent” heart attack, which causes damage without noticeable symptoms.

Early action is the best way to protect against a heart attack and stroke, and it’s never too late to make heart-healthy changes. Hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, and smoking are the leading causes of heart attack and stroke.

High blood pressure raises the risk of heart failure

Over time, the extra work the heart must put in when you have high blood pressure takes its toll. Heart failure occurs when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. Chronic high blood pressure can leave the heart too weak to do its job efficiently.

High blood pressure can also lead to heart failure by causing the heart to stiffen, preventing the main pumping chambers of the heart from filling up with enough blood.

Hypertension causes kidney damage

Blood pressure that remains too high poses a danger to your kidneys. In fact, hypertension is the leading cause of kidney disease and kidney failure. Chronic high blood pressure damages vital blood vessels and filters in the kidney, making it difficult for the kidneys to do their job of filtering waste from the blood. Many people don’t have symptoms in the early stages, leaving them unaware of the damage happening to their kidneys.

High blood pressure contributes to vision loss

Along with kidney problems, high blood pressure can cause problems with your sight. Uncontrolled hypertension can damage the blood vessels in the image focusing part of the eye called the retina. It can also cause damage to the optic nerve and lead to vision loss.

Keeping your blood pressure within a normal range is crucial for your overall health and well-being. Our board-certified internal medicine and primary care physician, Jonathan Leibowitz, MD, and our team of medical professionals can help you bring your blood pressure down and protect your heart.

We offer in-office and telehealth appointments to suit your needs. To schedule an appointment, use the online booking tool or call our office in the Brooklyn neighborhood of New York City.

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