Hypertensive heart disease is described as group of heart conditions which are caused by prolonged high blood pressure. When blood pressure remains high for a prolonged period of time it can have devastating effect on vital body organs, including the heart. Hypertension can cause variety of structural changes in the coronary vessels, heart musculature (myocardium), and the conduction system of the heart.
For example persistent hypertension can increase the load on cardiac muscles and as a result the muscles hypertrophy resulting in left ventricular failure (heart failure). It can also affect the coronary vessels which supply blood to the heart.They become narrow and supply less quantity of blood and oxygen to heart muscle.
Heart Diseases Related To Hypertension
When it comes to heart, hypertension can affect the muscles of heart and the coronary vessels.
- Coronary artery disease and angina: Arteries which supply the blood to heart musculature are called coronary arteries. Hypertension along with high cholesterol can damage the coronary vasculature. It can restrict the flow of blood to the heart or in worst cases can completely block blood supply. With less blood supply and oxygen, the heart muscle function gets compromised. It can lead to angina pain or with complete blockage, can cause heart attack.
- Effect on heart muscles: When the pressure in blood vessels is raised, we call it high blood pressure. In hypertension, the heart has to pump the blood against this pressure. As a result the heart muscles have to work more or in other words the load on heart muscles increase. Similar to any other muscles, the heart muscles become enlarged and thick due to overwork. But over a period of time the heart muscles get fatigued and heart pumping is affected. This leads to hypertrophy of heart, mainly the left ventricle and eventually heart failure.
Symptoms Of Hypertensive Heart Diseases
The symptoms of hypertensive heart disease depend on the severity of condition. In some cases the patient may remain asymptomatic. With progression of uncontrolled hypertension, patient may complain of varied symptoms indicating various heart related condition.
Patient may experience breathlessness on slightest exertion. Even climbing few staircases may be produce breathing difficulty. There may be swelling in legs and face. Nocturnal cough which is not relieved with normal broncho-dilators. These are major signs of enlarged heart.
In case of angina, patient may complain of chest pain, usually left sided on exertion. Pain may radiate to left arm and shoulder. It is stabbing pain. Patient feels compression in chest and difficulty in breathing. Pain remains for a while and becomes subtle after a period of time. This is characteristic angina pain which occurs in coronary artery disease.
Sometimes there is excruciating pain in chest with high blood pressure, profuse perspiration and cyanosis. It occurs in myocardial infarction when the coronary vessel is blocked due to a clot. It is a serious condition and requires emergency medical care.
How To Prevent Hypertensive Heart Disease?
The catastrophic events of hypertensive heart disease can be prevented or at least delayed if high blood pressure is effectively controlled. This requires regular monitoring and check up of blood pressure in patients suffering from hypertension. One of the primary goals when a patient has hypertension is to keep it under control with medicines and lifestyle changes. Both play important role in reducing the complications in a long way.
Patient should regularly visit his family physician for blood pressure check up. He should take the medicines prescribed form time to time without any break. He should not stop the anti hypertensive medicines without consulting his physician.
In addition, if he is suffering from diabetes and high cholesterol, he should keep them in control. Here are following tips to control and prevent the complications of hypertension:
- Regular check up of blood pressure.
- Take medicines on time.
- Reduce intake of salt.
- Quit smoking and alcohol.
- Exercise regularly.
- Eat healthy food which consists of vegetables, fruits, cereals, lean meat, and unsaturated fats. In addition eat foods containing omega 3 fatty acids.
- Obese persons should reduce weight.
- Sleep for 8 hours.
- Reduce stress and mental tension.