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High blood pressure makes your heart worker harder than it needed to before. Over the space of many years, this extra effort can lead to the heart muscle becoming thicker and less effective at pushing the blood round. This allows fluid to build up in your lower legs and ankles, which causes them to swell up.
Swollen ankles can also be a side effect of some blood pressure medicines, in particular calcium channel blockers. These medicines make your small blood vessels open wider and, in some people, this can cause more fluid to leak out of the blood vessels into the tissues. This fluid will collect around your ankles.
Are swollen ankles serious?
In its early stages, ankle swelling is an inconvenience but does not cause any major problems. But, if it is left untreated over a long period of time, it will start to put unwanted pressure on the blood vessels and tissues of the ankle.
This can lead to problems such as cellulitis (where the skin becomes infected and can lead to abscesses if not treated), varicose veins and venous ulcers (ulcers on the outer layers of the skin).
Can swollen ankles be treated?
Diuretic medicines increase the amount of fluid removed by your kidneys and this can help to get rid of any excess fluid from the body. This removes the build up of fluid from the tissues in your ankles.
If your ankle swelling is due to taking calcium channel blockers, reducing the dose of your medicine will usually help. Or, if your blood pressure is not fully controlled, your doctor may prescribe you a diuretic to help lower your blood pressure further and remove the excess fluid.
You can help to reduce the swelling by sitting with your legs lifted up. This lets your blood flow more freely and should help reduce the swelling.