Hypertensive heart disease can happen if you have unmanaged high blood pressure for a long time. The added strain on your heart could lead to heart failure or other health problems. This is why it’s important to know if you have high blood pressure and to treat it if you do. Lifestyle changes can make your heart healthier, too.
Hypertensive heart disease is a long-term condition that develops over many years in people who have high blood pressure. It’s a group of medical problems ― like heart failure and conduction arrhythmias ― that can happen when your high blood pressure (hypertension) is unmanaged.
Chronic high blood pressure (higher than 120/80 mmHg) causes hypertensive heart disease. As people get older and continue to have high blood pressure, their risk of heart disease increases. Heart failure occurs most often in people older than 65.
Chronic high blood pressure puts a strain on your heart and makes it harder for it to pump your blood. Your heart muscle can get thick and weak, possibly leading to heart failure. The walls of your blood vessels can also thicken because of high blood pressure, and this becomes more dangerous when cholesterol collects inside the blood vessels. Then your heart attack and stroke risks go up.
High blood pressure makes men twice as likely and women three times more likely to get heart failure. However, having your high blood pressure well managed can greatly reduce your risk of heart failure.
People who have hypertensive heart disease with heart failure have a higher risk for:
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High blood pressure makes it more difficult for your heart to push blood through your blood vessels. When plaque collects in your blood vessels or part of your heart muscle gets bigger because of high blood pressure, you can get these problems:
Complications of hypertensive heart disease include:
High blood pressure puts people at risk for:
1 out of every 3 adults in America has high blood pressure, but only half of those with the diagnosis have well-managed blood pressure. Hypertensive cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of illness and death due to high blood pressure.
You’re at risk for hypertensive heart disease if you:
High blood pressure that isn’t managed for years causes hypertensive heart disease.
Because there are no symptoms with high blood pressure, many people don’t know they have it. Symptoms of hypertensive cardiovascular disease often show up after your heart has already been damaged.
Symptoms of hypertensive heart disease include:
Since people with high blood pressure don’t have symptoms, it’s important to go to regular appointments with your provider. Your provider will want to get:
Your provider will want to rule out other problems that cause heart failure, such as ischemic cardiomyopathy. Tests include:
Your provider will treat the medical problems you have, such as:
Your provider may ask you to change your lifestyle in these ways:
Any medicine can have side effects, but it’s important to keep taking your medicines. If you’re worried about a side effect from your medication, your provider may be able to switch you to a different one. Medicines to treat high blood pressure include:
There are several things you can do, such as:
You can decrease your risk of hypertensive heart disease with lifestyle changes such as:
Your healthcare provider may order high blood pressure medicines for you such as:
Get your blood pressure checked once a year if you’re older than 18. Get readings more often if your numbers are high. If your blood pressure is high, bring it down and keep it down. You can purchase a blood pressure monitor you can use at home.
If high blood pressure is found early and treated, it may keep you from getting:
Other things you can do:
Hypertensive heart disease is a long-term disease that takes years to develop. Over time, people who have it are at a higher and higher risk of dying from a cardiovascular problem. The prognosis for people with hypertensive cardiovascular disease is different from person to person, depending on:
When you have high blood pressure, it’s important to keep taking your medicines to regulate your blood pressure. You also need to watch for problems that start to develop and treat them promptly.
Conditions to watch for include:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
High blood pressure is a very common condition, but some people don’t even know they have it. If you have been told you have high blood pressure, it’s very important to take the medicines your provider ordered for you. Keeping your blood pressure well managed is a key factor in preventing hypertensive heart disease. You have the power to make healthy changes in your life for a healthy heart.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/21/2021.
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