What Can High Blood Pressure Cause?

Blood flowing through the arteries exerts pressure against the artery walls. This is measured as blood pressure. High blood pressure indicates that the blood is exerting too much pressure on the artery walls. Called the "silent killer", hypertension (high blood pressure) rarely exhibits any symptoms. The damage it's doing to your heart, arteries, or other organs can't be felt, but can be life-threatening. Hypertension makes the heart pump harder to move the blood, contributing to atherosclerosis, kidney disease, stroke, and heart failure.

What Can High Blood Pressure Cause?

1.   Damage to Arteries

Healthy arteries have a smooth inner lining that allows blood to flow freely. They are strong, yet elastic and flexible. The blood carries oxygen and nutrients to the organs and tissues. The increased blood pressure on artery walls can gradually cause multiple problems.

  • Arteriosclerosis and Atherosclerosis

When hypertension begins to damage artery lining cells, it starts a series of events that thickens and stiffens the artery walls, a disease known as arteriosclerosis. Accumulating dietary fats pass through these damaged cells, causing atherosclerosis. This results in blocked blood flow, which in turn results in stroke, aneurysms, eye damage, kidney failure, heart attack and/or failure, and peripheral artery disease.

  • Aneurysm

Over time, an artery wall weakened from constant high blood pressure can bulge out like a balloon. This is called an aneurysm. They can form in any artery, but the aorta, the body's largest artery, is the most common spot. Aneurysms can rupture, resulting in internal bleeding, which is potentially life-threatening.

2.   Damages to the Heart

What can high blood pressure cause that damages the heart? Here are a few of the diseases and conditions that result from hypertension.

  • Coronary Artery Disease

When the arteries are narrowed by coronary artery disease, the blood flow is restricted to the heart by affecting the arteries that carry blood to the heart muscle. When the blood flow to the heart is thus restricted, it can cause chest pain, arrhythmias, or irregular heart rhythms, or you may have a heart attack.

  • Enlarged Left Heart

When your heart is forced to pump harder in order to circulate blood throughout your body because of hypertension, the left ventricle becomes stiff and thickened, a condition called left ventricular hypertrophy. This, in turn, limits the ventricle's capacity to pump blood throughout the body. The risk of heart failure, heart attack, or sudden cardiac arrest increases.

  • Heart Failure

The strain that hypertension places on your heart can cause the heart muscle to weaken over time. Thereby it works less efficiently. It also becomes stiffer and thicker. The heart becomes overwhelmed and eventually wears out and fails. Heart attack damage exacerbates this problem. Heart failure causes extra fluid to accumulate in the body and is a serious condition.

3.   Brain Damage

  • Stroke

When a part of the brain is deprived of nutrients and oxygen, brain cells die. Then a stroke occurs. Hypertension can cause the formation of blood clots in the arteries that lead into your brain, which block blood flow and potentially cause a stroke. Hypertension can damage brain's blood vessels, and causes them to leak, rupture, or narrow, and finally leads to a stroke.

  • Vascular Dementia

Problems caused by uncontrolled high blood pressure include the narrowing or damaging of the brain's blood vessels. The risk of a blocked or burst blood vessel increases with time. When the blood flow to the brain is restricted because of a blocked or burst vessel, brains cells may die. This results in impaired thinking, memory, and speaking ability.

4.   Kidney Impairment

The damage caused to blood vessels in the body because of high blood pressure may affect the kidneys and cause kidney failure. Hypertension damages the large arteries which lead to the kidneys and the tiny ones inside them. This prevents the kidneys from filtering waste as effectively, then allowing it to accumulate dangerously in the body. Diabetes increases this damage, which can ultimately lead to necessitating kidney dialysis or transplant.

5.   Sexual Health Issue

If you're wondering "what can high blood pressure cause", here's one to make you sit up and take notice. Even though erectile dysfunction increases in men by age 50, hypertension increases the occurrence. The narrowed blood vessels decrease blood flow to the penis, limiting the ability to achieve and maintain an erection. Women, too, may experience sexual problems caused by hypertension by reducing the blood flow to the vagina. Vaginal dryness, loss of arousal, and difficulty in achieving orgasm all result from this lack of blood flow.

6.   Vision Impairment

Hypertension puts strain on the delicate ocular blood vessels and causes the optic nerve to swell, leading to impaired vision. The only way to treat damaged blood vessels in your eyes is to lower your blood pressure. Vision problems will be permanent if left untreated. Stroke-induced brain damage can result in permanent vision loss.

7.   Peripheral Arterial Disease

Any body part that is deprived of sufficient oxygenated blood is at risk. If you experience numbness or pain in your limbs, it could be from impaired blood flow, which brings on peripheral artery disease. Peripheral artery disease can affect the legs, increasing the chance of infection or gangrene. Gangrene is the death of body tissue.

8.   Other Damages

Hypertension can also have an effect on other areas of the body, resulting in issues such as nose bleeds, headache, dizziness, nausea, difficult or labored breathing, bone loss, and sleeping problems. Over half of people with hypertension have sleep apnea.

Do I Have High Blood Pressure?

After getting to know "what can high blood pressure cause", you may want to diagnose whether you have high blood pressure or not. Blood pressure readings are given in two numbers: the systolic and the diastolic. The systolic number is the highest pressure when the heart beats to push blood through the blood vessels. The diastolic is the lowest number when your heart rests between beats. To use this blood pressure chart, find your systolic number on the side of the chart and the diastolic on the bottom, and draw a line. Where the lines intersect is the range in which your blood pressure falls.

How to Lower High Blood Pressure

1.   Lifestyle Changes

There are several lifestyle changes you can make that will help to lower your blood pressure, or maintain it if it is currently normal. A balanced diet of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts, with low-fat dairy, and eggs from cage-free chickens, is naturally low in sodium, unless you add a lot of salt in cooking. Limit yourself to 2,300 mg of sodium per day, unless your doctor recommends it. Use legumes–beans, lentils, garbanzos, black-eyed peas, and lima beans–in place of meat. Exercise daily, maintain a healthy weight, eliminate alcohol, and manage stress sensibly to live a healthier, longer life.

2.   Medications




Flush excess sodium from body, reducing fluid in the blood, helping to lower blood pressure.

Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors

ACE converts Angiotensin-1 to the blood vessel-narrowing hormone Angiotensin-II. ACE inhibitors prevent this, which halts the production of Angiotensin-II, lowering blood pressure.

Beta Blockers

Slows down your heart rate, causing your heart to pump less blood, which helps lower your blood pressure.

Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs)

They block the angiotensin II hormone from binding with blood vessel receptors, preventing the blood vessel from narrowing. This helps to lower blood pressure.

Calcium Channel Blockers

Prevent calcium from penetrating blood vessel and heart muscle cells, allowing blood vessels to relax. Can lower blood pressure.

Alpha Blockers

Diminish nerve impulses that constrict blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more freely, which lowers blood pressure.

Alpha-Beta Blockers

Combines action of Alpha Blockers and Beta Blockers, lowering blood pressure.

Central Acting Agents

Work in the brain to reduce nerve signals that constrict blood vessels, lowering blood pressure.


Relax blood vessel wall muscles, lowering blood pressure.


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