Can High Blood Pressure Cause Heart Failure?

Question: Can high blood pressure cause heart failure?

Answer: Certainly high blood pressure is a very important disease that is tightly associated with the likelihood of getting heart failure. Now what does that mean? The available data says that between 70 and 90 percent of patients who eventually develop heart failure will have had an antecedent -- that is preceding history -- of high blood pressure.

As well there are very good data to suggest that if you treat high blood pressure, especially in the older patient, you can reduce the likelihood of developing certain kinds of heart failure by as much as 50 percent.

So clearly there is an association. Where the question remains is whether or not there is a true cause effect related to high blood pressure and heart failure or if high blood pressure simply contributes to the likelihood of developing heart failure when other diseases impact the heart like hardening of the arteries and certain kinds of cardio myopathies.

Those are issues that are under active investigation. But the short version, yes, high blood pressure -- major risk factor for heart failure, another reason why we want to control high blood pressure.