High blood pressure damages more than just your heart

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) – It is the strongest muscle in your body and responsible for keeping you alive, but its strength is also what can kill you. Depending on what you're doing, your heart will pump between one and seven gallons of blood in just one minute.

"Every beat is like a hammer hitting your arteries," says Dr. Eric Walchak, an interventional cardiologist with Metro Health in Grand Rapids. "If you have high blood pressure that's squeezing that artery more, it takes more damage over time."

Every day Dr. Walchak sees patients with high blood pressure and the consequences it has on their health. "That causes more damage to the lining of the vessels which either causes less kidney blood flow, rupture of the vessel causing stroke or blindness in the eye, or a heart attack."

All of those conditions come from a build up of plaque in the artery that calicifies and hardens it. "Then eventually with years and years of beating and other risk factors... stroke, heart attack, kidney failure." All facts that Dr. Walchak says high blood pressure patients don't take seriously. "The problem is it is a silent killer and a thousand people die every day from hypertension. It is the leading cause or involved with most of the leading cause of death heart disease and about 80 million people in the United States have it."


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