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How High Blood Pressure Damages Arteries

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High blood pressure means that blood is pushing too hard against artery walls. The force of this blood can damage the delicate inner lining of the artery walls.

If this inner lining is damaged, fat and calcium can build up along the artery wall, forming a plaque. This plaque narrows the artery and makes the artery stiff (atherosclerosis). This is also called "hardening of the arteries." The plaque limits, or even blocks, the blood that is flowing through the artery. Over time, plaque can cause problems throughout the body.

If arteries to the heart are blocked, coronary artery disease, a heart attack, or abnormal heartbeats may happen.

If arteries to the brain are blocked, a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) may happen.

If arteries to other organs are blocked, problems such as kidney failure, peripheral arterial disease, or eye damage may happen.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
Current as of March 12, 2014

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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