Complications of high blood pressure

High blood pressure (hypertension) puts extra strain on your heart and blood vessels.

If untreated, over time this extra pressure can increase your risk of a heart attack, stroke and kidney disease.

Cardiovascular disease

High blood pressure can cause many different diseases of the heart and blood vessels (medically known as cardiovascular diseases), including:

  • stroke: occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off
  • heart attack: happens when the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked
  • embolism: occurs when a blood clot or air bubble blocks the flow of blood in a vessel
  • aneurysm: occurs when a blood vessel wall bursts causing internal bleeding

Kidney disease

High blood pressure can also damage the small blood vessels in your kidneys and stop them from working properly.

This can cause a number of symptoms, including:

  • tiredness
  • swollen ankles, feet or hands (due to water retention)
  • shortness of breath
  • blood in your urine
  • urinating more often, particularly at night
  • itchy skin

Kidney disease can be treated using a combination of medication and food supplements.

More serious cases may require dialysis (a treatment where waste products are artificially removed from the body) or a kidney transplant.

Find out about how to prevent high blood pressure.

Angina is chest pain caused by a reduced flow of blood to the heart, typically resulting from heart disease.
Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body.
Blood supplies oxygen to the body and removes carbon dioxide. It is pumped around the body by the heart.
Blood vessels
Blood vessels are the tubes in which blood travels to and from parts of the body. The three main types of blood vessels are veins, arteries and capillaries.
The brain controls thought, memory and emotion. It sends messages to the body controlling movement, speech and senses.
The heart is a muscular organ that pumps blood around the body.
Heart attack
A heart attack happens when there is a blockage in one of the arteries in the heart.  
Kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs located at the back of the abdomen, which remove waste and extra fluid from the blood and pass them out of the body as urine.

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