What can high blood pressure cause if untreated?

What can high blood pressure cause if untreated?

High blood pressure is a common disease. In the background of serious cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure can often be seen. According to estimates, the number of people suffering from high blood pressure will increase by 15-20% by 2025, reaching nearly 1.5 billion. In the beginning, high blood pressure does not cause any complaints in the majority of people, which is why high blood pressure is often referred to as the „silent killer”.

In the absence of complaints, most people do not know at all that they should consult a doctor. However, untreated high blood pressure can cause serious complications. Early detection and treatment of high blood pressure is of crucial importance both in terms of the patients’ quality of life and their life prospects.

What is hypertension, i.e. high blood pressure?

Our blood pressure typically changes from minute to minute and time of day, and it can also be affected by certain external conditions. We can talk about hypertension if the average of the blood pressure measured at the doctor’s office, in a state of rest, on three different occasions, at least one week apart, reaches or exceeds 140 mm Hg systolic or 90 mm Hg diastolic. Multiple measurements are necessary to establish a diagnosis because blood pressure values can fluctuate significantly spontaneously.

It is a misconception that the upper limit of normal blood pressure can be calculated by adding 100 mm Hg to the number of our age. In the case of adults, regardless of age, the upper limit value of 140/90 mm Hg should always be taken into account, but even a value of 135/85 mm Hg is considered high when measuring blood pressure at home. The lower the blood pressure, the lower the risk of later developing cardiovascular complications. Therefore, in medical practice, the aim is not to reduce blood pressure per se, but to reduce the overall cardiovascular risk.

With all of this in mind, the attending physician establishes the target blood pressure value to be achieved. It also takes into account the fact that in certain risk conditions, such as diabetes, heart or kidney disease, it is necessary to achieve a lower blood pressure value from the outset. During the examination, the doctor maps out whether the patient has already developed damage to the vascular system, and finds out whether there may be any pathological changes in the background – such as thyroid or kidney disease – that could cause high blood pressure.

Measure your blood pressure regularly at home!

Measure blood pressure with a certified measuring device, regularly and under appropriate conditions. It often happens that the blood pressure value measured by the doctor, turns out to be high even in case of people whose blood pressure is completely normal. This phenomenon is called the „white coat” effect. That is why, in order to clarify whether our blood pressure rises only when we see the doctor, or beyond the walls of the doctor’s office, it is worth measuring our blood pressure at home.

Rules for measuring blood pressure at home:

  1. Always measure at the same time (the same hour of the day)!
  2. Do not smoke or drink coffee within an hour before the measurement!
  3. Sit quietly for two to three minutes before the measurement!
  4. Do not measure blood pressure if you have a strong urge to urinate!
  5. Before measuring, read the instructions for use of the blood pressure monitor!
  6. During the measurement, the cuff should be at the height of the heart!
  7. Do not move during the measurement!
  8. Do not talk during the measurement!
  9. Wait at least one minute between two measurements!
  10. Enter the measured values in the blood pressure diary!
  11. Measure your blood pressure regularly!

The cuff of the digital sphygmomanometers must be placed at the height of the heart according to the regulations. The measurement is carried out preferably in a sitting position, with our back supported, with relaxed muscles, while our arms should always be supported at the height of the heart, the elbows should be slightly bent, and the legs should not be crossed. There may be a difference between the blood pressure values measured in the two arms, but it should not exceed 10-15 mmHg. There can be a significant difference between blood pressure values measured at certain times of the day.

What can we do to prevent high blood pressure?

An unhealthy lifestyle plays a decisive role in the development of high blood pressure. We would not even imagine how much we can contribute to the effectiveness of the medication prescribed by the doctor by leaving and changing our bad habits. Try to live as healthy a lifestyle as possible: pay attention to nutrition, regular exercise, not smoking and avoiding the harmful effects of stress!

By reducing the consumption of table salt, we can achieve a drop in blood pressure of up to 2-8 mm Hg. By creating a diet rich in fiber, vegetables and fruits, whole grain products and fish, and low in energy, fat and carbohydrates with a high glycemic index, we can also get rid of some weight excess.

Regular physical activity can result in an additional 4-10 mm Hg blood pressure reduction. For patients with high blood pressure, 35-40 minutes of moderate-intensity, dynamic exercise per day – for example, brisk walking, jogging or cycling – is recommended. It doesn’t hurt to know that static strength sports involving pressing – for example weight lifting, body-building – raise blood pressure. Before starting sports, it is definitely advisable to consult with the attending physician, who will give personalized advice based on the individual’s load capacity.

High blood pressure is not a problem where symptoms warn us every day that we need to deal with it. However, the heart attack resulting from high blood pressure is too serious a disease to start dealing with the issue only when the trouble has already happened. A healthy diet or a more active lifestyle, which also includes sports, are definitely important steps. There are medicines that can be taken over the age of 45 in the case of men, and over the age of 55 in the case of women, which can be used to prevent cardiovascular diseases (Aspirin Protect). Taking medicines containing acetylsalicylic acid on a regular basis prevents the abnormal adhesion of blood platelets and thereby the formation of blood clots that narrow or block blood vessels, thus reducing the risk of heart attack.


(1) World Health Organization. Fact Sheet – Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). (2017) Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cardiovascular-diseases-(cvds)

(2) Williams B, Mancia G, Spiering W, et al. 2018 ESC/ESH Guidelines for the management of arterial hypertension [published correction appears in Eur Heart J. 2019 Feb 1;40(5):475]. Eur Heart J. 2018;39(33):3021‐3104. doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehy339.

(3) Mayo Clinic Staff. High blood pressure: The silent killer. (2019) Available at: https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/high-blood-pressure-the-silent-killer

●      (4) Mayo Clinic Staff. Get the most out of home blood pressure monitoring – Checking your blood pressure at home is an important part of managing high blood pressure. Find out how to use home monitors accurately. (2019) Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/in-depth/high-blood-pressure/art-20047889