High blood pressure
High pressure in your blood vessels is called hypertension. Hypertension that is not controlled increases your risk of developing heart failure (HF) in two ways:
- It causes narrowing, constriction and increased resistance in your blood vessels, including those that supply your heart, leading to reduced flow to the heart muscle which may weaken or injure your heart.
- It adds to your heart’s workload. When the pressure is too high, your heart must pump harder than normal to keep the blood circulating. To cope with increased pressure, your heart muscle thickens and becomes larger to compensate. However, this extra work may eventually lead to the heart being unable to pump as hard as needed (decompensation) and lead to symptomatic heart failure.
If you are diagnosed with heart failure, it is important to keep monitoring your blood pressure. Normal blood pressure varies with age, but high blood pressure (BP above 140/80 mmHg) will worsen your heart function, increase your symptoms and will require long-term treatment. For more information on monitoring your own blood pressure refer to section Taking your blood pressure and pulse.
Hypertension that is not well controlled increases your risk of heart failure. When the pressure is too high, your heart has to pump harder than normal to keep the blood circulating. The narrowing and blocking of blood vessels caused by high blood pressure increases your risk of developing heart failure. Narrowed arteries are less elastic and make it more difficult for the blood to circulate around the body.
Treatment includes lifestyle modifications as well as medications. Both are used in treating your heart failure. Lifestyle modifications include dietary sodium restriction (salt), regular physical activity, smoking cessation, etc.
Medications used to treat heart failure usually lower blood pressure and these drugs are recommended first. If blood pressure is still uncontrolled, there are numerous additional drugs that can be used. Note that not all medicines that are used to treat high blood pressure are good for heart failure patients. You should discuss your questions about medicines with your doctor or nurse.
Drug classes that can be used to treat your high blood pressure include:
– Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE-inhibitors)
– Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB)
– Angiotensin receptor blocker/Neprilysin inhibitor (ARNI)
– Calcium channel blockers
– Mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists (aldosterone antagonists)
– Diuretics (thiazides)