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How High Blood Pressure Increases Your Risk of Heart Disease

Learn how high blood pressure, aka hypertension, increases your risk of heart disease from Dr. Dennis Finkielstein in this Howcast video.


So, how does high blood pressure lead to heart disease? Well, high blood pressure or hypertension is a condition in the body where the pressure inside the arteries is high. The link between hypertension and heart disease is one of the most well established links in the medical literature. Finding out if you have high blood pressure or hypertension is easy. Your doctor takes a simple measurement, usually at the upper arm with a blood pressure cuff and is able to tell you exactly what your blood pressure is.

Now, blood pressure varies throughout the day, but in general, if you're resting at the doctor's office, and they take a blood pressure measurement and it's above 140 for the top number and 90 for the bottom number, most doctors would consider that having hypertension. The higher it goes, the worse your risk may be. Having hypertension or high blood pressure leads to various changes within the body that helps promote the development of blocked arteries or atherosclerosis. It also promotes the hardening or stiffening of those arteries. Both of those conditions can lead to things like stroke or heart attack, or a weakening of the heart muscle called heart failure.

The good news is that treating hypertension or high blood pressure is relatively easy. Doctors have many choices of medications they can give and lifestyle modifications such as increased exercise and certain dietary choices may help as well. So, having hypertension or high blood pressure leads to a lot of changes in the body which can cause heart disease.

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