Skip to content

    Hypertension/High Blood Pressure Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    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 flexible.

    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 camera.gif. 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:

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: 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 information.
    1
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    blood pressure
    Symptoms, causes, and more.
    headache
    Learn the causes.
     
    Compressed heart
    5 habits to change.
    Mature man floating in pool, goggles on head
    Exercises that help.
     
    heart healthy living
    ARTICLE
    Erectile Dysfunction Slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
     
    Bernstein Hypertension Affects Cardiac Risk
    VIDEO
    Compressed heart
    Article
     
    Heart Disease Overview Slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
    thumbnail for lowering choloesterol slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
     
    Heart Foods Slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
    Low Blood Pressure
    VIDEO
     

    WebMD Special Sections