High Blood Pressure Is No Joke — Here’s How It Hurts Your Body

We all know high blood pressure is bad. After all, we hear consistent warnings from our friends, family, and physicians. Yet something is very often missing in these conversations: the why. Why does having high blood pressure matter? Does it really affect your health that much? In short, yes. Hypertension can have some devastating effects on your body.

There’s some good news, though. If you monitor it carefully and work with your doctor, you can minimize these major health concerns. Let’s take a look.

1. Your eye health suffers

a woman with irritated eyes

Information from Mayo Clinic | iStock.com/MangoStar_Studio

The blood vessels in your eyes supply blood to your retina, which triggers nerve impulses that pass through the optic nerve on their way to your brain. You may suffer complete vision loss if these vessels are damaged. If you have type 2 diabetes, your risk of total blindness increases.

2. The likelihood of an aneurysm increases

a man is getting his blood pressure checked

Information from WebMD | iStock.com/Piotr Adamowicz

The most dangerous types of aneurysms form on your aorta or the vessels that supply blood to your brain. Most aneurysms don’t show symptoms, so it’s important to get checkups regularly so your doctor can intervene before you get hurt.

3. Sexual dysfunction is likely

a man and woman kiss each other

Information from the Journal of Hypertension | iStock.com

Both men and women can suffer from sexual dysfunction as a result of high blood pressure. Hypertension patients experience this condition at higher rates than those with normal blood pressure.

4. You could be headed toward diabetes

diabetic man checks his blood sugar

Information from Healthline | iStock.com/BernardaSv

If you have high blood pressure, you’re at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This also increases your likelihood of suffering nerve damage and kidney disease.

5. The risk of having a stroke increases

high blood pressure can lead to a stroke

Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention | iStock.com/stockdevil

A stroke occurs when damaged blood vessels can’t get enough oxygen to your brain, causing brain cell death. This can lead to speech and motor difficulties, and could also kill you.

6. You could end up with dementia

a memory care patient talks to his doctor

Information from the Alzheimer’s Association | iStock.com/AlexRaths

Blood vessels supply both oxygen and nutrition to your brain. Without the proper nutrients, normal brain function starts to deteriorate. Sudden or gradual cognitive decline can result in confusion, disorientation, and having trouble communicating or understanding spoken words.

7. Kidney damage can be severe

a woman using the restroom

Information from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute | iStock.com/vadimguzhva

If the blood vessels in your kidneys become narrow due to high blood pressure, your chances of developing chronic kidney disease increase significantly. Damaged kidneys won’t filter toxins out of your blood as efficiently as healthy ones, and if damage is severe, they’re likely to fail completely.

8. You might end up with osteoporosis

doctors looking at an X-ray

Information from WebMD | iStock.com/KatarzynaBialasiewicz

Your bones depend largely on calcium to maintain density. It’s possible to lose calcium when you have high blood pressure, which weakens your bones and increases your risk of fracture.

9. And yes, it really hurts your heart

a doctor indicates heart health

Information from the American Heart Association | iStock.com/BrianAJackson

Similar to the way brain cells can die off without oxygen, heart muscle can die if damaged arteries interrupt blood flow. This causes a heart attack, which isn’t always, but can be, deadly.

10. So, what can you do?

a pateint gets his blood pressure checked

Information from Rush University Medical Center | iStock.com

Medication is sometimes necessary to treat dangerously high blood pressure. In the long-term, maintaining a diet rich in plant-based foods and engaging in regular physical activity can help you manage your symptoms and prevent severe damage to your body.