High Blood Pressure and Vein Health
Having high blood pressure can increase your risk for serious health issues, including heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Also known as hypertension, this condition affects your vein health, too. To avoid these serious conditions, here’s more about how high blood pressure can affect your vascular system.
How High Blood Pressure Impacts Your Arteries
When your arteries are healthy, they’re flexible and elastic. They’re also strong and smooth, allowing blood to flow freely throughout your body to supply your organs with essential nutrients and oxygen. As its name suggests, high blood pressure means the pressure of your blood increases, which puts added strain on the walls of your arteries. This can lead to two major issues in your vascular system:
Damaged, Narrow Arteries
“There’s a domino effect to high blood pressure,” explains Vascular Surgical Associates physician Dr. Jeffery Winter. “Having it over a long period of time can eventually weaken the cells in the lining of your arteries. Fats from the foods you eat — specifically, ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol — can then collect along the damaged areas. Over time, this buildup causes your artery walls to lose their elasticity and potentially become narrower. This narrowing can then restrict blood flow, causing your circulatory system to become less efficient.”
When your circulatory system has to work harder to pump blood throughout the body, it puts added strain on your heart. This extra strain then puts you at a greater risk for potentially deadly events like a heart attack or heart failure.
Ongoing pressure against weak arteries can cause a section of the artery wall to bulge, forming what’s known as an aneurysm. While an aneurysm can form in any artery, they’re most commonly found in the aorta: the largest artery, which carries oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Aortic aneurysms can be thoracic, abdominal, or located in the chest.
The bigger an aneurysm gets, the greater the risk of bursting becomes. This can lead to life-threatening bleeding. Risk factors for aneurysms include advanced age, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, having a family history of the condition, and high blood pressure.
The Importance of Maintaining Healthy Blood Pressure
Oftentimes, high blood pressure has no outward symptoms or warning signs. Many people don’t know they have blood pressure and are at risk for serious health issues. As the American Heart Association explains, “High blood pressure is a largely symptomless ‘silent killer.’ If you ignore your blood pressure because you think a certain symptom or sign will alert you to the problem, you are taking a dangerous chance with your life.”
Testing for high blood pressure involves assessing your systolic (the pressure against arteries when your heart is contracting), and diastolic (the pressure while it rests between beats) blood pressures. Typically, that number is presented as the measurement of your systolic pressure over your diastolic pressure. On average, “normal” blood pressure is considered that of less than 120/80 mmHg.
Fortunately, if tests reveal you have or are creeping toward dangerously high blood pressure, there are steps you can take, including medications and lifestyle modifications. Identifying high blood pressure can also alert your physicians to look for other potential issues, including damage to your vascular system.
If you’re seeking circulatory help from a team of vein experts, turn to Vascular Surgical Associates. Our physicians specialize in treating aortic aneurysms, among other vascular conditions. To schedule an appointment at one of our nine convenient locations, connect with us online or call (770) 423-0595.