World Hypertension Day: How high BP affects your heart, kidneys and liver

World Hypertension Day: Can hypertension or high blood pressure have a severe effect on your vital organs? Turns out it can! Read on to find how it affects our organs and how you can manage it.
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Hypertension can affect your vital organs in the long run. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Dr Nishith Chandra Updated: 17 Oct 2023, 18:32 pm IST
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Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries is consistently elevated, leading to serious health complications. On account of World Hypertension Day, let’s see how hypertension affects our organs such as the heart, kidney and liver, causing chronic diseases. Understanding the side effects of hypertension on these vital organs is crucial for effective management and prevention of serious complications, ultimately promoting better health and well-being.

Side effects of hypertension on heart

Firstly, hypertension can have severe effects on the heart. When the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries is too high, it can cause damage to the heart’s blood vessels, making them thicker, narrower or weaker. This can lead to a condition known as coronary artery disease, where the blood flow to the heart muscle is reduced, which can cause chest pain or a heart attack.

Hypertension can also cause left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH), which is an enlargement and thickening of the walls of the heart’s left ventricle. LVH is a common complication of hypertension and can result in heart failure, arrhythmias, or sudden cardiac death.

Furthermore, hypertension can lead to heart failure, which is a condition where the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. This can cause symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue and swelling of the legs.

affect of hypertension on heart
Your heart is at risk if you are not managing your hypertension problem well.

Side effects of hypertension on kidneys

Hypertension can have a significant impact on the kidneys. The kidneys are responsible for filtering waste products from the blood and maintaining the body’s fluid balance. However, when the blood pressure is consistently high, it can cause damage to the small blood vessels in the kidneys, reducing their ability to filter waste products effectively.

Over time, this can lead to chronic kidney disease (CKD), a progressive condition where the kidneys gradually lose their ability to function properly. CKD is a severe complication of hypertension, as it can ultimately lead to kidney failure, which requires dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Additionally, hypertension can cause glomerulosclerosis, a condition where the glomeruli, the tiny blood vessels in the kidneys responsible for filtering waste products, become scarred and damaged. This can cause proteinuria, a condition where excess protein is excreted in the urine, and can ultimately lead to kidney failure.

affect of hypertension on kidney
Hypertension can affect your kidney health too. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Side effects of hypertension on liver

Hypertension can also affect the liver. The liver is responsible for filtering toxins from the blood, producing bile, and storing glucose for energy. However, when the blood pressure is consistently high, it can cause damage to the blood vessels in the liver, reducing its ability to function correctly.

Hypertension can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition where excess fat builds up in the liver, causing inflammation and scarring. NAFLD is a severe complication of hypertension and can ultimately lead to liver failure, cirrhosis, and liver cancer.

Moreover, hypertension can cause portal hypertension, a condition where the blood pressure in the portal vein, which carries blood from the digestive organs to the liver, is too high. This can cause liver damage, bleeding from the digestive tract, and fluid accumulation in the abdomen.

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How to manage hypertension?

Hypertension is a silent killer, often asymptomatic in its early stages, and can go undetected for years. Therefore, it is essential to regularly monitor blood pressure and make lifestyle modifications to prevent its onset or control it effectively. Lifestyle modifications such as a healthy diet, regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol and tobacco consumption, and managing stress can help reduce blood pressure and prevent hypertension-related complications. Additionally, timely medication and regular checkups can aid in the early detection and management of hypertension, reducing the risk of severe health complications.

world hypertension day
Some basic lifestyle changes can help manage hypertension. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

So, hypertension is a prevalent condition that can have severe consequences for the heart, kidney, and liver. It can cause damage to the blood vessels, reducing their ability to function correctly and ultimately leading to chronic diseases such as heart disease, kidney disease, and liver disease. It is essential to manage hypertension effectively through lifestyle modifications and medication to prevent these severe complications and maintain overall health and wellbeing.


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About the Author

Dr Nishith Chandra is Director Coronary Imaging with keen interest in Coronary OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography). He has been at Fortis for last 26 years. Dr Chandra has been actively involved in the field of Interventional Cardiology for more than 26 years. He has been instrumental in setting up the highly acclaimed Air Ambulance Unit of Escorts Heart Institute that has enabled the transportation of more than 300 critically sick patients from all over India and neighboring countries. Beside this, Dr Chandra has been the in-charge of the Emergency and Heart Command Centre of Escorts Heart Institute, for more than two decades. Dr Chandra also has a keen interest in medical informatics and electronic medical records and is involved in digitizing the Cath lab processes. Dr Chandra has authored many publications in peer reviewed national and international journals and has written chapters in many books. ...Read More

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