Mario A. Martinez, M.D.
Mechanical pump systems are designed to be at a certain pressure. If you exceed the pressure in the system, the hoses, the valves, the fittings on the pipes, and the pump itself will fail prematurely. Uncontrolled hypertension has a similar effect on the body. High blood pressure is especially damaging to the very small blood vessels in the body, as they have thinner walls than the larger blood vessels. This makes them less able to tolerate excessively high blood pressure which can cause them to rupture. Damage to the inside of blood vessels due to hypertension makes them rough inside and plaque adheres to them more easily. Damage to small blood vessels is the mechanism by which uncontrolled hypertension causes an increased risk of stroke. It is one of the leading preventable causes of blindness. It damages blood vessels in the heart and is one of the leading causes of heart disease. It is the second leading cause of kidney failure. It causes damage to the circulation in the gut. It damages the very small blood vessels in the penis, which causes erectile dysfunction.
The heart is a big specialized muscle. Like any muscle, when it has to work against a lot of resistance, the muscle walls of the heart become very thick. This decreases the size of the chambers of the heart, and the heart has to work harder in order to meet the oxygen requirements of the body.