How hypertension causes heart failure

Hypertension is high blood pressure in your arteries, which carry blood from your heart to every part of your body. Hypertension makes it harder for your heart to pump blood because of the increased pressure in the arteries. Over time, this increased pressure can lead to heart failure.

If you have high blood pressure, you may get symptoms of both diastolic and systolic heart failure.

How does hypertension cause diastolic heart failure?As your heart works to pump against the increased pressure in your arteries, your heart muscle thickens to help your heart pump harder. This thickening of the heart muscle is called hypertrophy. Although hypertrophy can temporarily help your heart to pump against the increased pressure, eventually your thickened heart muscle will become stiff and less able to relax and fill with blood. When this happens, you may develop diastolic heart failure.

How does hypertension cause systolic heart failure? To pump against your high blood pressure, your heart has to increase the pressure inside your left ventricle when it pumps. After years of working harder to pump blood, your ventricle may begin to weaken. When this happens, the pressure inside the weakened left ventricle will cause the ventricle to expand, stretching out the heart muscle. This damaging process is called dilation, and it impairs your heart's ability to squeeze forcefully. The result is systolic heart failure.

Last Updated: August 25, 2008

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