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 pressure 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.
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:
Eye damage (retinopathy) that can lead to vision loss and blindness.
In this article
This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
September 30, 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