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Hypertensive heart disease

Definition

Hypertensive heart disease refers to heart problems that occur because of high blood pressure. These problems include:

 

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

High blood pressure means the pressure inside the blood vessels (called arteries) is too high. As the heart pumps against this pressure, it must work harder. Over time, this causes the heart muscle to thicken.

Without treatment, symptoms of heart failure may develop. Sometimes the muscle can be so thick that it does not get enough oxygen. This can cause angina (chest pain).

High blood pressure also leads to thickening of the blood vessel walls. When combined with cholesterol deposits in the blood vessels, the risk of heart attacks and stroke increases.

Hypertensive heart disease is the leading cause of illness and death from high blood pressure.

 

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if you have high blood pressure and develop any symptoms.

Prevention

Because there are no symptoms with high blood pressure, people can have the condition without knowing it. Diagnosing high blood pressure early can help prevent heart disease, stroke, eye problems, and chronic kidney disease.

All adults should have their blood pressure checked:

  • Every 2 years, if their blood pressure was less than 120/80 mmHg at their most recent reading
  • Once a year if their blood pressure was 120 - 139/80 - 89 mmHg

If your blood pressure is high, you need to lower it and keep it under control.

  • Do not stop or change high blood pressure medications, except on the advice of your health care provider.
  • Carefully control diabetes and high cholesterol.
 

References

Massie BM. Heart failure: pathophysiology and diagnosis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 58.

Victor RG. Arterial hypertension. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 67.


Review Date: 6/4/2012
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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