6 Dangers of High Blood Pressure

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Jennifer Acosta Scott on September 6, 2020
  • blood-pressure
    A Common Problem
    High blood pressure occurs when blood constantly pushes against the walls of your arteries with too much force. Your blood pressure is high when your pressure reading is consistently higher than 140/90 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury). If you have high blood pressure, you’re not alone. About 1 in 3 adults in the United States has it. But having high blood pressure can lead to other serious health issues. Here are a few of the dangers of high blood pressure.
  • warning-signs-of-a-heart-attack
    Heart Attack
    People with high blood pressure are more likely to have a heart attack than people who don't have it. Over time, high blood pressure can cause scarring on artery walls. These scars can fill up with plaque. The arteries become narrow. That blocks blood flow. If enough blood is blocked, a heart attack occurs, which may cause parts of the heart muscle to die. About 70% of people experiencing their first heart attack have high blood pressure.
  • scientist or lab technician wearing safety glasses and gloves while holding test tube of blood sample
    Blood Clots
    Arteries scarred by high blood pressure are often narrower than normal. This can cause blood cells to stick together and form a clot. Clots can block blood from flowing to parts of the body that need it. A clot that blocks blood flow to the brain can cause a stroke. A blood clot that blocks blood flow to the heart can cause a heart attack.
  • kidney-disease-model-kidneys
    Kidney Damage
    High blood pressure can harm blood vessels in the kidneys too. If enough damage occurs, the kidneys can't work like they should. That means they can't help get rid of extra fluid and waste from the body. The buildup of extra fluid can cause even higher blood pressure, creating a dangerous cycle. Over time, the kidneys may stop working completely. That's called kidney failure. In the United States, high blood pressure is the second most common cause of kidney failure.
  • Male doctor's hand examining sheet of brain MRI scans
    Stroke
    A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is blocked. A blood clot can cause this. So can a burst blood vessel. Blood vessels that are weakened by the force of high blood pressure are more likely to leak, burst or become clogged. The lack of blood and oxygen from a stroke can cause brain damage and disability. This can include paralysis, speech problems, memory loss, and more.
  • Hispanic pregnant woman getting ultrasound from older African American female doctor
    Pregnancy Problems
    Some women who have never had high blood pressure get it when they are pregnant. Doctors call this pregnancy-induced hypertension. It usually goes away after the pregnancy. But high blood pressure during pregnancy should be treated. High blood pressure can harm the mother’s body and can also affect the baby. The baby might weigh less than it should at birth or be born early. Stillbirths also are possible because of high blood pressure during pregnancy.
  • Woman caressing ill man in hospital ward
    Heart Failure
    Heart failure occurs when the heart is weak and cannot pump enough blood through the body. Untreated high blood pressure can lead to heart failure. That's because high blood pressure makes the heart work harder. Over time, this can damage the muscles and valves of the heart. Though there are treatments for heart failure, there is no cure. Lifestyle changes are often an important part of keeping it under control. That includes keeping blood pressure under control.
6 Dangers of High Blood Pressure

About The Author

  1. What is High Blood Pressure? National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbp/
  2. High Blood Pressure Facts. Centers for Disease Control. http://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/facts.htm
  3. What is High Blood Pressure? American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/AboutHighBloodPressure/What-is-High-Blood...
  4. High Blood Pressure and Kidney Disease. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/highblood/#how
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  6. Effects of Stroke. American Stroke Association. http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/AboutStroke/EffectsofStroke/Effects-of-Stroke_UCM_308534_....
  7. High Blood Pressure and Women. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/UnderstandYourRiskforHighBloodPressure/Hi... 
  8. About Heart Failure. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartFailure/AboutHeartFailure/About-Heart-Failure_UCM_0020...
  9. Prevention & Treatment of Heart Failure. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartFailure/PreventionTreatmentofHeartFailure/Prevention-T...
  10. What is a stroke. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.  http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/stroke/printall-index.html
  11. What is a heart attack. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.  http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/heartattack/printall-index.html
  12. Heart and Artery Damage and High Blood Pressure. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/WhyBloodPressureMatters/Heart-and-Artery-...
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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Sep 6
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.