Hypertension: Long-Term Consequences and Symptoms

Medically reviewed by Dr. Aravind Vijayan., MD(Gen Med), Diabetologist and Critical Care Specialist — Updated on Mar 23, 2023 

Millions of individuals throughout the world suffer from hypertension, often known as high blood pressure. It is a chronic disorder defined by recurrent blood pressure readings that are higher than the healthy range of 120/80 mmHg. Because of the increased risk of acquiring different medical complications, such as cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and stroke, this condition is a significant public health concern.


The effects of high blood pressure

Cardiovascular Conditions

Heart disease is one of the most important consequences of hypertension. The arteries that provide blood to the heart muscle are damaged by hypertension, which promotes the development of numerous cardiovascular diseases. Heart failure, stroke, and coronary artery disease are some of these conditions.

When the blood vessels that provide blood to the heart muscle get constricted or blocked, it results in coronary artery disease. This chronic illness is characterised by prolonged high recurrent blood pressure. Because of the increased risk or obstruction, this condition is extremely concerning. In severe conditions, it can result in shortness of breath, chest pain and even heart attack.

Another severe side effect of hypertension is stroke. Brain damage happens when the arteries that carry blood to the brain constrict or become blocked. Weakness, numbness, trouble speaking, and inability to move one or more limbs are some of the symptoms of stroke.

Kidney Damage:

In addition to harming the kidneys, hypertension can also cause a number of kidney disorders. Chronic renal disease is one of the kidney conditions most often linked to hypertension. When the kidneys are damaged and unable to effectively filter blood, this condition develops. This causes waste products to build up in the body, which can result in a number of issues including anaemia, bone disease, and nerve damage.

End-stage renal disease is another kidney condition connected to hypertension. When the kidneys are significantly damaged and unable to function efficiently, it results in this condition. Dialysis or a kidney transplant might be necessary for those with end-stage renal illness to remain alive.

Eye Damage

Many eye problems can result from hypertension because it can affect the blood vessels in the eyes. When the blood vessels in the retina—the area of the eye that senses light—become damaged as a result of high blood pressure, the condition known as hypertensive retinopathy develops. Headaches, impaired vision and even vision loss are just a few of the symptoms that this disorder can produce.

Cognitive Disorder

Cognitive impairment, which covers a number of diseases like dementia and Alzheimer's disease, is another effect of hypertension. Memory, reasoning, and social skills are all impacted by the disorder known as dementia. Alzheimer's disease is a form of dementia that impairs thinking, behaviour, and memory. Research has indicated that hypertension, particularly in older persons, raises the risk of cognitive impairment.

Erectile Dysfunction and Hypertension

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common condition that can result from hypertension. Hypertension can cause damage to the blood vessels that supply blood to the penis, making it difficult to achieve or maintain an erection. Additionally, hypertension medications such as beta-blockers and diuretics can also contribute to ED. It's crucial for individuals with hypertension to speak with their healthcare provider about ED, as treatment options are available. Managing hypertension and seeking treatment for ED can improve overall health and quality of life.


The signs of hypertension

Because it rarely manifests any symptoms in most people, hypertension is frequently referred to as the "Silent killer". Nonetheless, some individuals may display symptoms like:  

Headaches: Hypertension can result in headaches, particularly in the neck and back of the head. These headaches can be very bad and typically start in the morning.  

Fatigue: Hypertension can make you feel tired, especially while you're exercising.  

Lightheadedness: Hypertension might make you feel queasy, especially when you stand up suddenly.  

Breathlessness: Hypertension can produce breathlessness, especially when engaging in strenuous exercise.  

Chest discomfort: Chest pain is a common symptom of hypertension, especially when the heart is working harder than usual or during exercising.  

Nosebleeds: Those with severe hypertension are more likely to experience nosebleeds due to their hypertension.  

Why are there no symptoms of hypertension?

High blood pressure, often known as hypertension, frequently has no symptoms. This is due to the body's silent regulation of blood pressure. Blood pressure is the measurement of the pressure exerted by the body's blood as it flows through its arteries. When the blood pressure is high, the heart has to work harder to push blood through the arteries. Over time, this additional burden may harm the organs and blood vessels, resulting in a number of health issues. But, until the blood pressure becomes dangerously high, the person is unable to sense it. As a result, it's imperative to periodically check your blood pressure, especially if you:

  • smoke, are obese,
  • have diabetes,
  • or have a family history of hypertension.
Preventing the onset of major health consequences requires the early detection and management of hypertension.



Lifestyle changes are the first line of defence in the treatment and management of hypertension. Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, cutting back on salt and alcohol, quitting smoking, and eating a balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are just a few of these lifestyle changes. To control high blood pressure, medication may be necessary in some circumstances.



Working with a healthcare professional to create a custom treatment plan based on blood pressure readings, medical history, and general health is crucial. To stop the emergence of issues related to hypertension, regular blood pressure monitoring and adherence to treatment regimens are essential. It is crucial to remember that hypertension may be prevented and managed, but to do so, it needs persistent effort to change the lifestyle, and collaboration with medical professionals.