Q:

Why is high blood pressure bad?

A:

Quick Answer

Over time, untreated high blood pressure can cause damage to the heart, kidneys, eyes and brain, according to the American Heart Association. It also leads to erectile dysfunction and fluid in the lungs in many patients.

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Full Answer

If a patient starts to develop some of these medical problems, they are not symptoms of high blood pressure. Rather, they are some of the effects that the excess pressure causes over time. There are no symptoms for elevated pressure unless it reaches extreme levels (180/110 or higher). This means that it's possible to have elevated pressure levels for years before these problems develop, notes the American Heart Association.

Doctors have identified several risk factors for high blood pressure. These include a sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, heredity, age and being male. Potential dangers for the heart include heart attack, congestive heart failure, heart disease and atherosclerosis, also known as hardening of the arteries. The risks for the brain include memory loss as well as increased potential for stroke, as blood vessels develop blockages that keep blood and oxygen from reaching the brain. People who have multiple risk factors for high blood pressure should seek screening and insight about possible lifestyle changes to reduce their vulnerability to these long-term dangers, advises the American Heart Association.

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