My best friend has congestive heart failure. Her doctor told her that it was because she has had high blood pressure levels for over 20 years. Are high blood pressure levels a cause of congestive heart failure?
Yes, longstanding high blood pressure levels can lead to congestive heart failure (CHF). One of the reasons that high blood pressure is referred to as the "silent killer" is that people often don't experience symptoms. So, they don't seek medical advice. Then, hypertension goes untreated—for years even.
As the heart reaches higher pressures to fill and contract, the muscle is chronically overworked. Like any muscle in the body that is overworked, the heart enlarges, especially the left ventricle. Over time, left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) develops as the left ventricle gets thicker and thicker to get the job done under higher pressures. The problem is, the thicker muscle needs more blood flow and blood vessels itself in order to get enough oxygen and ATP. The LV can then become weakened under this strain, almost getting in its own way. Contractions are less forceful, less blood is ejected with each contraction, and heart failure can set in.
This connection between longstanding high blood pressure levels and the signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure is just one of many important reasons to check your blood pressure regularly, and rein it in if necessary.