Written by:Eli Ben-Yehuda, September 5, 2018

Having high blood pressure is a symptom of what is happening in the body. Left untreated, high blood pressure does not just affect your circulatory system. It affects every system in the body. How we respond to take care of this, could determine the outlook of our health for many years to come.

The body has to work much harder to maintain a sense of homeostasis. By definition, homeostasis is the tendency toward a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes. So lets take a look at a few of the body’s systems and how they are effected by high blood pressure.

As the heart beats, it pushes blood through the arteries on its way to the rest of the body. Blood pressure is the amount of force created within the arteries and veins. Systolic blood pressure is measured as the blood pumps out of the heart. Diastolic blood pressure is measured between heartbeats. Blood pressure varies from person to person and can fluctuate throughout the day.

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According to the American Heart Association (AHA), over time, a reading of 140/90 may require treatment. The top number signifies the pressure in the arteries, and the lower number signifies the pressure between the heartbeats. High blood pressure doesn’t always produce obvious symptoms. However, it causes progressive damage to arteries and veins, which can interfere with blood flow throughout the body. This may lead to stroke, heart disease, and heart failure. Other parts of the body, including kidneys, limbs, and eyes, also may suffer damage.

The Circulatory System:

The circulatory system transports oxygenated blood throughout the body. Healthy arteries stretch slightly as blood is pumped through them. High blood pressure may cause the arteries to stretch too much, leaving them vulnerable to damage. Over time, small tears form scar tissue within the arteries.

Narrowed arteries, called atherosclerosis, can trap plaque and cholesterol, causing coronary artery disease. If the left ventricle of the heart thickens, its ability to pump blood can be severely limited. Trapped blood can result in blood clots that narrow or block arteries, causing a stroke or heart attack. Blood clots can also block the flow of blood to other vital organs. Weak or bulging arteries and blood vessels are more likely to rupture.

Chest pain (angina) and irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmia’s) may accompany high blood pressure. Chronic high blood pressure forces the heart to work harder and grow weaker, increasing the likelihood of heart failure.

Any part of the body that doesn’t receive enough oxygenated blood is at risk. Pain or numbness may be a sign of impaired blood flow to your limbs, resulting in peripheral artery disease. This increases the chance of infection or tissue death, called gangrene.

The Central Nervous System:

Your brain cannot function without a steady supply of oxygenated blood. Narrowed arteries or a blood clot can briefly block the flow of blood to the brain. This is called a transient ischemic attack (TIA), or mini-stroke.

People who have a TIA are at increased risk of a full-blown stroke, an event in which the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off, causing brain cells to die. Stroke can cause severe, sometimes irreversible damage, depending on the part of the brain involved. The biggest risk for stroke is high blood pressure.

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Other potential effects of high blood pressure are mild cognitive impairment and vascular dementia, a brain disease caused by an interrupted blood supply to the brain. Symptoms include problems with memory, reasoning, and speaking.

Retinopathy occurs when damage occurs in the small blood vessels that bring blood to the eyes. It can cause bleeding or a buildup of fluid under the retina, which is called choroidopathy. Damage to the optic nerve (optic neuropathy) can actually kill nerve cells in the eyes. These conditions can result in impaired vision or even vision loss.

The Sexual System:

High blood pressure can cause sexual dysfunction in men and women. In men, good blood flow to the penis is necessary to achieve and maintain an erection. If chronic high blood pressure affects arteries and blood vessels leading to the penis, it can result in erectile dysfunction (ED), painful ejaculation, and impotence.

In women, high blood pressure can affect the blood flow to the vagina. That can cause vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, decreased sexual desire, and trouble achieving orgasm. Sexual dysfunction can cause anxiety in both men in women and potentially lead to relationship problems.

According to Harvard Health Publications, most of the prescription medications used to treat high blood pressure can also cause sexual problems. These include:

  • beta blockers
  • ACE inhibitors
  • diuretics
  • calcium-channel blockers
  • angiotensin-receptor blockers

As you can see this 3 systems can take a major hit when having to deal with high blood pressure. High blood pressure may only be a three lettered word, but the ramification of uncontrolled hypertension can take a major toll on the human body. If you have uncontrolled hypertension, it is time to get it under control. If not for yourself then for those around you who love you and need you to be around. Contact your healthcare practitioner for a full checkup today. Most people walk around having hypertension but do not know it. With little to no symptoms, you do not want to wait until the problems begin to occur.

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