Damage To Your Arteries
Healthy arteries are flexible, strong and elastic. Their inner lining is smooth so that blood can flow freely, supplying vital organs and tissues with nutrients and oxygen. If you have hypertension, though, over time, the increased pressure of blood flowing through your arteries can cause a variety of problems, including:
- Arteriosclerosis. The excessive pressure in your arteries from hypertension alters the cells of the arteries' inner lining. That launches a cascade of events that make artery walls thick and stiff. This process is called arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. It can affect arteries throughout your body, obstructing blood flow to your heart, kidneys, brain and extremities. The damage can cause chest pain (angina), heart attack, heart failure, kidney failure, stroke, peripheral arterial disease and aneurysm.
- Atherosclerosis. This is the most common form of arteriosclerosis. It's the hardening and narrowing of your arteries that results from the buildup of fatty clumps (plaques) and other waste material in your bloodstream.
- Aneurysm. Over time, the constant pressure of blood coursing through a weakened artery can cause a section of its wall to enlarge and form a bulge (aneurysm). An aneurysm (AN-u-rizm) can rupture and cause life-threatening internal bleeding. Aneurysms can form in any artery throughout your body, but they're most common in the aorta, your body's largest artery.