Possible damages to the heart by hypertension

Untreated hypertension can cause various damages to the heart.

The higher the blood pressure, the more the heart has to work, (i.e. the left ventricle) to pump blood into the main artery (aorta). The heart muscle has to adapt to this increased stress over time, and thickens. In addition to this thickening of the heart muscle fibres (cardiac muscle hypertrophy) the connective tissue between the muscle fibres becomes more developed. This is the so-called ‘hypertensive heart’.

The heart muscle becomes stiffer as a consequence of these rebuilding processes. The hypertension patient notices this through an increased shortness of breath upon exertion. Another problem is that the blood flow to the heart muscle does not keep pace with the growth of the heart muscle. The smaller arteries running in the heart muscle are often constrained by the high pressure (microangiopathy) so that the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the deeper layers of the myocardium can be put at risk. The high-pressure patient therefore often experiences chest pain. If left untreated, chronic heart failure (cardiac insufficiency) develops with an enlargement of the ventricles.

In addition, the typical pattern of a hypertensive heart very often includes arrhythmia (cardiac rhythm disorders) in the form of so-called extrasystoles and atrial fibrillation. Hypertension is also promotes a hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis) - the arteriosclerotic damage of coronary arteries is known as coronary arteriosclerosis, a major risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD) with painful chest constrictions (angina pectoris), and as such, for heart attack.

Consequences of hypertension