Blood pressure is a facet of health often ignored but remarkably important. Did you know high blood pressure left untreated can lead to permanent blindness? Or that you can suffer renal failure if high blood pressure leads to an aneurism in the renal artery? While varicose veins are mainly a cosmetic issue, the health of your veins is tied into blood pressure and any warning signs should be taken seriously.

Blood Pressure: What Is It?

The numbers look incomprehensible to anyone not medically trained, but blood pressure is simply the pressure of blood within the veins. As the heart muscle contracts, it pressurizes the blood in order to move it through the body. Two numbers are the measurement of blood pressure: the top (systolic) and bottom (diastolic) numbers read the pressure after the heart contracts for a beat and before it contracts again.

Categories for blood pressure measurements can be generalized in a simple chart, such as the one made available by the American Heart Association. A normal blood pressure is ‘110 over 70,’ presenting the systolic and diastolic numbers of measured pressure. Categories go from normal to ‘at risk’ to high as the numbers rise. A blood pressure reading of ‘140 over 90’ is a sign of high blood pressure and can mean you’re at risk for a hypertensive crisis which requires immediate emergent care.

What Does This Mean for Vein Health?

As age progresses, veins become less elastic and are likely to read a higher blood pressure. This is a clear indication of the relationship between blood pressure and vein health. High blood pressure exerts excessive force on blood vessel walls and can cause microscopic tears. As the vessels try to heal, they develop scar tissue. This scar tissue can act like a net for cholesterol, particles of fat and other substances which turn into plaque. The heart then must work harder to push blood through narrowed vessels, leading to further damage.

What is a side effect of blocked and damaged blood vessels? Blood supply failures, blood clots and even heart attacks. Blood pressure is one of the best ways to gauge circulatory health, and proper awareness of blood pressure numbers allows damage to be stopped before it becomes irreversible.