Yes, uncontrolled high blood pressure can injure or kill you. It's sometimes called "the silent killer" because HBP has no symptoms, so you may not be aware that it's damaging your arteries, heart and other organs.
Possible health consequences that can happen over time when high blood pressure is left untreated include:
- Damage to the heart and coronary arteries, including heart attack, heart disease, congestive heart failure, aortic dissection and atherosclerosis (fatty buildups in the arteries that cause them to harden)
- Kidney damage
- Vision loss
- Erectile dysfunction
- Memory loss
- Fluid in the lungs
- Peripheral artery disease
But remember, these are not symptoms of HBP. High blood pressure is a symptomless disease except in its most extreme cases known as hypertensive crisis. When BP readings rise to 180 or above for the systolic — top — number OR 110 or above for the diastolic — bottom — number, call for emergency medical treatment immediately.
Individuals whose blood pressure is higher than 140/90 mm Hg (140 systolic or above OR 90 diastolic or above) often become patients treated for serious cardiovascular problems.
of Americans treated for a first stroke have blood pressure over 140/90
of Americans who have a first heart attack have blood pressure over 140/90
of Americans with congestive heart failure have blood pressure over 140/90
Is your blood pressure increasing your risks for these serious medical problems? Use our risk calculator to learn your likelihood of heart attack, stroke, heart failure and kidney disease - and how simple changes can make a difference.
Your risk increases even more if you have high blood pressure along with other risk factors:
- Heredity (including race)
- Gender (male)
- Overweight or obesity
- High cholesterol
- Physical inactivity
Through risk reduction and treatment of HBP, you can lower your risk for many of these diseases.
This content was last reviewed on 04/04/2012.