Hypertensive heart disease is a condition caused by high blood pressure (hypertension) that affects the heart. Prolonged high blood pressure can cause various changes to the heart’s structure and function, leading to hypertensive heart disease. This condition encompasses several cardiac abnormalities, including:
- Left Ventricular Hypertrophy (LVH): High blood pressure forces the heart to work harder to pump blood throughout the body. Over time, this increased workload can cause the muscle of the heart’s left ventricle to thicken and enlarge (hypertrophy). LVH can impair the heart’s ability to relax and fill with blood properly, leading to symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, and fatigue.
- Coronary Artery Disease (CAD): Chronic hypertension can damage the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle, leading to the development of coronary artery disease. Narrowed or blocked coronary arteries can cause chest pain (angina), heart attacks, or heart failure.
- Heart Failure: Hypertension can eventually weaken the heart muscle and impair its ability to pump blood effectively. This can lead to heart failure, a condition in which the heart cannot adequately meet the body’s demands for blood and oxygen. Symptoms of heart failure include shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling in the legs and ankles, and difficulty exercising.
- Left Ventricular Diastolic Dysfunction: High blood pressure can cause stiffening of the heart muscle, particularly in the left ventricle, impairing its ability to relax and fill with blood during the relaxation phase (diastole) of the cardiac cycle. This diastolic dysfunction can lead to symptoms similar to heart failure, even if the heart’s pumping function remains normal.
- Aortic Dissection: Chronic hypertension can contribute to the weakening of the walls of the aorta, the main artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. This can increase the risk of aortic dissection, a life-threatening condition where the layers of the aortic wall tear, causing blood to leak into the vessel wall.
Management of hypertensive heart disease involves controlling high blood pressure through lifestyle modifications (such as maintaining a healthy diet, regular exercise, limiting alcohol intake, and managing stress) and medications prescribed by a healthcare provider. Early detection and treatment of hypertension are crucial for preventing or minimizing the complications associated with hypertensive heart disease. Regular monitoring and follow-up care are essential to manage the condition effectively.