Causes, incidence, and risk factors
High blood pressure means the pressure inside the blood vessels (called arteries) is too high. As the heart pumps against this pressure, it must work harder. Over time, this causes the heart muscle to thicken.
High blood pressure also leads to thickening of the blood vessel walls. When combined with cholesterol deposits in the blood vessels, the risk of heart attacks and stroke increases.
Hypertensive heart disease is the leading cause of illness and death from high blood pressure.
Calling your health care provider
Call your health care provider if you have high blood pressure and develop any symptoms.
Because there are no symptoms with high blood pressure, people can have the condition without knowing it. Diagnosing high blood pressure early can help prevent heart disease, stroke, eye problems, and chronic kidney disease.
All adults should have their blood pressure checked:
- Every 2 years, if their blood pressure was less than 120/80 mmHg at their most recent reading
- Once a year if their blood pressure was 120 - 139/80 - 89 mmHg
If your blood pressure is high, you need to lower it and keep it under control.
- Do not stop or change high blood pressure medications, except on the advice of your health care provider.
- Carefully control diabetes and high cholesterol.
Massie BM. Heart failure: pathophysiology and diagnosis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 58.
Victor RG. Arterial hypertension. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 67.