High Blood Pressure (HBP) is a serious condition that can lead to coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure and vision loss. “Blood Pressure” is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage the body in many ways.
About 1 in 3 adults in the United States has HBP. The condition itself usually has no signs or symptoms. You can have it for years without knowing it. During this time, the HBP can damage your heart, blood vessels, kidneys and eyes.
Blood Pressure tends to rise with age. Sometimes medication can control it. Following a healthy lifestyle helps people delay, prevent or control the BP.
Hypertension can cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina. This picture of the retina shows an eye with hypertensive retinopathy. The arrows point to arteries and veins crossing each other. In a healthy eye the vessels run parallel. The crossings are dangerous because one of the vessels can be occluded. If an artery is blocked, blood will not flow to the retina beyond the occlusion and the retina will die. This causes a permanent blind spot. If a vein is occluded there will be bleeding which may cause a chain of negative events including loss of vision, abnormal vessel growth and glaucoma.
Hypertensive retinopathy typically won’t have any symptoms. It is found during a dilated eye exam. The earlier it is detected the sooner the blood pressure can be controlled preventing vision loss, stroke and death.
The best way to prevent hypertensive retinopathy is by keeping blood pressure controlled by diet, exercise and taking medications as prescribed.
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