Most of us understand that high blood pressure (hypertension) is a dangerous health condition. With about one out of every three adults having high blood pressure in the US, most of us know someone who has high blood pressure. We may feel like we have some understanding of the condition.

But the truth is that many people don’t understand just why hypertension is dangerous. And most people don’t know about the connection between hypertension and sleep apnea. That’s why we’re highlighting the connection so people can learn to prioritize treatment of these conditions.

woman taking elderly man's blood pressure

When Life Blood Becomes Deadly

Our life literally depends on the circulation of blood through our body. To maintain our body, we need blood to go everywhere. With hypertension, the increase in blood pressure can cause the circulatory system to damage the very tissues it’s supposed to be supplying. The result can be deadly, especially in the case of a stroke.

Hypertension can lead to two different kinds of stroke. In a hemorrhagic stroke, elevated blood pressure can cause a blood vessel to burst. Blood pours into the brain, creating pressure that cuts off circulation in the brain. In an ischemic stroke, high blood pressure can cause pieces of arterial plaque to break off. These pieces of plaque travel to the brain, where they clog blood vessels, cutting off circulation. In either condition, brain death can result if prompt treatment isn’t received.

High blood pressure can also lead to heart failure. The heart is working extra hard to push the blood, and it can fail as a result of the stress. Blood clots can also cut off circulation to the heart.

Damaging Vital Tissues

But even if high blood pressure isn’t deadly, it can take a toll on some vital organs. High blood pressure can put damaging pressure on your optic nerve, leading to vision loss through glaucoma. The elevated blood pressure can even damage the delicate layer of cells that receive light at the back of your eye, the retina. As the retina is damaged, it can lead to irreparable vision loss.

Our kidneys have the already difficult job of filtering toxins and contaminants from our blood. This job is made harder when elevated blood pressure pounds on the filtering tissues. It can damage or clog them, leading to reduced  kidney function.

Even our sturdy bones can suffer from high blood pressure. When you have high blood pressure, your body may leach calcium from your bones, then excrete it in urine. This can lead to osteoporosis.

Diminished Quality of Life

The very physical effects of hypertension can also take an emotional toll. High blood pressure can make it hard for a man to maintain an erection. And it can decrease libido in both men and women. These impacts can dramatically reduce a person’s joy in life.

People can also experience mood disorders as a result of hypertension. They may experience anxiety at the condition, or they may experience depression related to their changing health or possibly as a side effect of blood pressure medication.

The Sleep Apnea Connection

All these high blood pressure risks are also related to sleep apnea. In part that’s because sleep apnea can cause hypertension. When the body loses its ability to breathe during sleep, the brain tells the heart to beat harder. This can lead to transient episodes of high blood pressure. Over time, this can lead to a disruption in the way your body regulates blood pressure, causing daytime hypertension.

Sleep apnea is associated with drug resistant hypertension–hypertension that doesn’t respond to medication. Treatment of sleep apnea can reduce blood pressure, and in the case of drug resistant types, it may be the best way to address blood pressure.

If you are concerned about your high blood pressure in Wichita Falls, TX, and think sleep apnea might be part of the problem, a sleep dentist at StarImage Dentistry can help. Please call 940-322-2252 today for an appointment.