Problems That Can Develop if Hypertension Is Left Untreated

Hypertension if left untreated

Commonly referred to as high blood pressure, hypertension is a serious medical condition that can affect not only your circulatory health, but also the health of your other organ systems. 

Hypertension was the primary or contributing cause of death for almost 500,000 Americans in 2018, and only 24% of those currently living with it have it under control. 

At Advanced Cardiac Care, board-certified cardiologist Michael Avaricio, MD, and our staff at our Ozone Park, Queens, New York, office understand how insidious this killer can be. It almost never causes symptoms until it reaches an advanced stage. 

That’s why we offer preventive blood pressure screening and customized cardiac treatment for our patients. Here’s what you need to know about what happens when your hypertension is left untreated.

Measuring blood pressure

When a doctor or nurse takes your blood pressure, they’re measuring the force of the blood flow against your artery walls. Arteries are the tubes filled with oxygenated blood that lead from your heart to your body’s tissues, where they deliver the oxygen and other important nutrients.

A blood pressure reading generates two numbers, reported as one number over the other number. 

The top number, called the systolic pressure, measures the pressure against the walls when the heart actively beats. The bottom number, called the diastolic pressure, measures the pressure against the walls when the heart rests between beats. 

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In a healthy adult, a normal blood pressure reading is less than 120/80.

If the readings fall above these numbers, it means your heart has to work harder to pump blood. This is called high blood pressure or hypertension. High pressure can not only damage the blood vessels (arteries and veins), but it can also damage your eyes, kidneys, and even your brain.

Types of hypertension

Hypertension comes in two different types:

Primary hypertension

Primary, also known as essential, hypertension generally develops gradually, and in most cases, there’s no identifiable cause for the elevation in pressure. 

Secondary hypertension

Secondary hypertension results from an underlying condition or substance, such as:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Kidney disease
  • Thyroid problems
  • Adrenal tumors
  • Certain medications and illicit drugs

This form often appears suddenly and causes higher readings than those of primary hypertension.

Problems that can develop if hypertension is left untreated

Your arteries, veins, and tissues are built to withstand a certain amount of force from blood flow. When the pressure exceeds those amounts, especially if it remains high over a long period of time (becomes chronic), it can damage the artery walls. 

In doing so, it creates rough patches where cholesterol, fats, protein, and calcium build up, forming a sticky plaque that eventually hardens and narrows the blood vessels, a condition called atherosclerosis. 

Because the vessels are narrowed, the heart has to pump even harder to push the blood through.

Atherosclerosis can lead to life-threatening problems, including:

  • Chronic heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
  • Pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs)
  • Stroke (clot in brain)
  • Chronic kidney disease and kidney failure

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If pressure remains high in the venous part of the circulatory system, it can lead to a number of vein problems, including chronic venous insufficiency (sluggish blood flow and pooling), spider and varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis, leg edema (swelling), and venous ulcers, slow-healing open sores.

High blood pressure doesn’t announce itself, so if you don’t know your blood pressure range, it’s time you come into Advanced Cardiac Care for a screening. Call our office at 718-737-9132, or book your appointment online with us today.


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About the Author: Tung Chi