What is the connection between high blood pressure (hypertension) and heart disease?
Hypertension is a risk factor for coronary heart disease and the single most important risk factor for stroke. It causes about 50% of ischaemic strokes and increases the risk of hemorrhagic stroke.
Hypertension stresses your body’s blood vessels, causing them to clog or weaken. Hypertension can lead to atherosclerosis and narrowing of the blood vessels making them more likely to block from blood clots or bits of fatty material breaking off from the lining of the blood vessel wall. Damage to the arteries can also create weak places that rupture easily or thin spots that balloon out the artery wall resulting in an aneuvrism.
Elevated blood pressure in people less than 50 years old is associated with an increased cardiovascular risk. As you get older, your systolic blood pressure becomes a more important predictor of the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Although increasing blood pressure is part of aging, a healthy low salt diet, physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the risk of this happening.
Dietary salt is a significant factor in raising blood pressure in people with hypertension and in some people with normal blood pressure. If you are already overweight then a high intake of salt increases your risk of cardiovascular disease.