When high blood pressure goes untreated

Don’t confuse a lack of symptoms with a lack of risk. A person with high blood pressure usually feels “just fine.” And that makes it easy to also feel unconcerned. Your loved one may not be motivated to treat high blood pressure. Or may want to stop taking medications because they don’t notice any difference.

But uncontrolled high blood pressure takes a toll on the body, increasing the risk of

  • heart attack. Blood flowing at high pressure makes tiny tears in the artery walls. The resulting scar tissue narrows and hardens the arteries. A heart attack occurs when plaque or a blood clot cuts off blood flow in the heart.
  • heart failure. Narrow arteries force the heart to work harder to pump blood throughout the body. Such overwork leads to an enlarged heart, extreme fatigue, and, ultimately, to heart failure.
  • stroke. When an artery in the brain gets too narrow or clogged or bursts because it has been weakened, the result is a stroke. A stroke can lead to loss of muscle control on one side of the body, inability to talk, or even to dementia (problems with memory and reasoning).
  • kidney damage. The kidneys put out a hormone that helps the body keep blood pressure under control. In a vicious cycle, when the arteries in the kidneys become damaged, the kidneys are less able to produce this helpful hormone.
  • vision loss. High blood pressure puts pressure on the optic nerve. This can lead to dulled and/or double vision.

Keeping an eye on blood pressure is a smart way to safeguard health! Although high blood pressure isn’t curable, it can be managed. Sometimes through changes in lifestyle or with prescribed medication taken as directed.