High Blood Pressure - What Happens
Healthy arteries have smooth inner walls. Your blood flows
through them without a problem. The blood vessels stay strong and
But when you have
high blood pressure, blood flows through your arteries
with too much force, even though you can't feel it. Over time, this damages the
walls of your arteries. They aren't smooth anymore. They get rough spots on
them where fat and calcium start to build up. This buildup is called
plaque (say "plak").
Plaque is part of atherosclerosis, sometimes called "hardening of the arteries." Over time, the plaque narrows the artery and blocks blood flow through it.
Atherosclerosis makes your arteries narrower. It also makes them
stiffer. Blood can't flow through them as easily. This lack of good blood flow
starts to damage some of the organs in your body.
See a picture of
how high blood pressure damages arteries .
This damage doesn't happen all at once. It
happens slowly over time. But you can't tell that it's happening, because you
don't feel anything. It can lead to: