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Lt Col Reynolds
When the heart pumps, blood throughout the body pushes against the walls of the arteries. This is called blood pressure. If the pressure begins to rise and remains high, this can do damage to the body in many ways.

Lt Col Phillips
That’s right. And, in a person who is obese, the likelihood of having high blood pressure, called hypertension, increases. Dr. Patel, what can you tell us about hypertension?

Dr. Patel
Well, hypertension usually develops over many years, and it affects nearly everyone eventually. The problem is that many times there are no symptoms of hypertension, and so it is often not treated in a timely manner.

One of the dangers of untreated hypertension is atherosclerosis, which is the hardening of the arteries due to plaque build-up. This can eventually lead to a heart attack.

Atherosclerosis can lead to other complications, such as coronary artery disease, which can weaken the heart muscle. When arteries become hardened or narrowed, the heart muscle can’t get the blood and oxygen it needs. It also makes the heart work harder to pump blood through the arteries to supply the rest of the body with blood. When the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs, it’s called congestive heart failure.

Untreated hypertension can also affect the kidneys. Your kidneys are continually working to filter your blood and control the volume of fluids in your body. High blood pressure can damage the kidneys by decreasing their ability to filter out substances from the blood, or to control fluid volume in the body.

Hypertension can also affect the brain by increasing the chance of having a stroke. Strokes happen when blood flow to the brain stops. A stroke can cause varying degrees of paralysis, speech problems, vision loss, and if it’s severe enough, even death.

Over time, high blood pressure can also lead to problems with vision. As the arteries in the back part of the eye thicken and blood supply becomes restricted, patients may experience some vision loss. This is called hypertensive retinopathy.

Fortunately, high blood pressure can be easily detected. And once you know you have high blood pressure, you can work with your provider to control it.