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Knowing Hypertension and its Dreaded Complications

Updated on March 4, 2012

Hypertension is one of the leading causes of mortality and morbidity. Hypertension if left uncontrolled can have devastating effects on other organs. Hypertension is defined as a chronic condition wherein blood pressure is noted to be elevated above normal levels. Based on JNC7, a committee dealing with hypertension defined a normal BP to have a systolic blood pressure of 90-119 and a diastolic pressure of 60-79. Having a systolic blood pressure of 120-139 or a diastolic pressure of 80-89 is considered as pre hypertension and any values above are considered as hypertension. Let us tackle some complications of hypertension to know why it is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide.

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Organs Affected by Hypertension

The Brain – an elevated and an uncontrolled blood pressure could lead someone having a stroke. Hypertension is one of the risk factors for having stroke. It is noted that the risk for stroke is directly proportional to one’s blood pressure, so the higher the blood pressure, the higher the risk for having stroke. Whether it’s an infarct or a hemorrhagic stroke, uncontrolled blood pressure plays a big role in both of them.

The Heart – cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for patients who have hypertension. An uncontrolled blood pressure is a risk factor for developing left ventricular hypertrophy, congestive heart failure, myocardial infarction, and atherosclerotic plaque formation. Aggressive control on one’s blood pressure can greatly reduce cardiovascular risk and lessen cardiovascular complications.

The Kidneys – uncontrolled hypertension can cause kidney damage and in turn lead into renal replacement therapy (dialysis). Although kidney disease can be a cause of hypertension, it could also be the end organ target of uncontrolled blood pressure. Although it is not a sudden organ damage, damage to the kidneys could pile up in time from uncontrolled hypertension until it finally gives up and dialysis is needed. Kidney damage could initially present with proteinuria among hypertensive patients.

The 3 organs mentioned above are the common targets for uncontrolled hypertension, but hypertension if left untreated can injure or damage any organ in the body. It could promote plaque formation among peripheral arteries; it could cause blindness for someone who has malignant hypertension, and many more. A lot of researches are done to know more about hypertension, its complications, and association with other disease entities and how to control it with different antihypertensive medications. Hypertension may not be all numbers, but is a serious threat to life.


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