High blood pressure means that blood is pushing too hard against
artery walls. The force of this blood can damage the delicate inner lining of
the artery walls.
If this inner lining is damaged, fat and
calcium can build up along the artery wall, forming a plaque. This plaque
narrows the artery and makes the artery stiff (atherosclerosis). This is also
called "hardening of the arteries." The plaque limits, or even blocks, the
blood that is flowing through the artery. Over time, plaque can cause problems
throughout the body.
If arteries to the heart are blocked,
coronary artery disease, a heart attack, or abnormal heartbeats may happen.
If arteries to the brain are blocked, a stroke or transient
ischemic attack (TIA) may happen.
If arteries to other organs are
blocked, problems such as kidney failure, peripheral arterial disease, or eye
damage may happen.
April 4, 2011
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
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