Hypertensive heart disease is the number one cause of death associated with high blood pressure. It refers to a group of disorders that includes heart failure, ischemic heart disease, and left ventricular hypertrophy (excessive thickening of the heart muscle).
What Is Heart Failure?
Heart failure does not mean the heart has stopped working. Rather, it means that the heart's pumping power is weaker than normal or the heart has become less elastic. With heart failure, blood moves through the heart's pumping chambers less effectively, and pressure in the heart increases, making it harder for your heart to deliver oxygen and nutrients to your body. High blood pressure may also bring on heart failure by causing left ventricular hypertrophy, a thickening of the heart muscle that results in less effective muscle relaxation between heartbeats. This makes it difficult for the heart to fill with enough blood to supply the body’s organs, especially during exercise, leading your body to hold onto fluids and your heart rate to increase.
How Is Hypertensive Heart Disease Diagnosed?
The doctor will look for certain signs of hypertensive heart disease, including:
- High blood pressure
- Enlarged heart and irregular heartbeat
- Fluid in the lungs or lower extremities
- Unusual heart sounds
The doctor may perform tests to determine if you have hypertensive heart disease, including an electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, cardiac stress test, chest X-ray, and coronary angiogram.
How Is Hypertensive Heart Disease Treated?
In order to treat hypertensive heart disease, doctor has to treat the high blood pressure that is causing it. Doctor will treat it with a variety of drugs, including diuretics, beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, angiotensin receptor blockers, and vasodilators.
In addition, the doctor may advise you to make changes to your lifestyle, including:
- Diet: If heart failure is present, you should lower your daily intake of sodium to 1,500 mg or 2 g or less per day, eat foods high in fiber and potassium, limit total daily calories to lose weight if necessary, and limit intake of foods that contain refined sugar, trans fats, and cholesterol.
- Monitoring your weight: This involves the daily recording of weight, increasing your activity level (as recommended by the doctor), resting between activities more often, and planning your activities.
- Avoiding tobacco products and alcohol
- Regular medical checkups: During follow-up visits, the doctor will make sure you are staying healthy and that your heart disease is not getting worse.