If left untreated, hypertension can lead to a thickening of arterial walls, causing the lumen, or blood passageway, to narrow in diameter. As a result, the heart must work harder to pump blood through the narrowed arterial openings. In addition, people with hypertension may be more susceptible to stroke.
Review Date 9/7/2021
Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.