Because people with high blood pressure do not usually have any symptoms until the disease has reached an advanced stage, high blood pressure is often called the “silent killer.” That is why having blood pressure checked regularly is important.
The lack of symptoms is why some people who are aware they have high blood pressure do not take any steps to control and treat it. Because they feel okay they think everything is okay. But if high blood pressure is left untreated, serious problems may develop over time.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can cause strokes. As high blood pressure causes a person’s arteries to get narrower and narrower, it is harder for blood to get to the brain. That can potentially cause blot clots in the brain, cause a blood vessel in the brain to leak, or cause a blood vessel in the brain to rupture.
Kidney disease can occur if high blood pressure is left untreated. If the arteries in the body are narrowed from sustained high blood pressure, the impaired flow of blood throughout the body can cause waste to build up in the blood because it is not getting to the kidneys often enough to discard all the waste products. As the waste builds up, it becomes more and more difficult for the kidneys to try and get rid of the waste, putting a big strain on the kidneys. This can cause the kidney functions to greatly diminish or even fail entirely.
If the kidneys start to function at less than twenty percent of capacity, dialysis treatments will usually be needed. A kidney transplant would be an option to avoid having to get lifetime dialysis treatments if the person is a candidate for a transplant and a kidney becomes available.
Problems with a person’s eyes can also occur as a result of untreated high blood pressure, causing a loss of vision if it gets severe enough. High blood pressure can also lead to memory loss and dementia.
Heart problems are another serious problem that can develop if high blood pressure is left untreated. The arteries in the heart can become hard and stiff from restricted blood flow, causing a condition called arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
It is common for people with untreated high blood pressure to have plaque accumulate in the major arteries of the heart. The plaque deposits reduce blood flow to the heart and can eventually cause a heart attack. High blood pressure narrows the arteries and blood vessels in the body. Getting oxygen rich blood to the heart becomes more difficult as the arteries get narrower. If the heart cannot get enough oxygen, it will cause a heart attack.