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Strokes & High Blood Pressure: All You Need To Know

Last reviewed: 20 Jan 2022

Medically Reviewed By: Dr Jay Shah

Resource Hub / Cardiovascular diseases Strokes & High Blood Pressure: All You Need To Know

 What is a stroke?

A stroke is a life-threatening condition where a person’s blood supply to the brain is reduced to the point of damage to brain cells. There are two types of stroke:

  • Ischemic stroke – where the blood supply to an area of brain decreases, leading to dysfunction of that area. Around 85% of strokes are ischemic
  • Hemorrhagic stroke – where there is bleeding inside the brain or outside the brain but remaining in the skull

What happens when you have a stroke?

Symptoms of a stroke include:

  • Immobility or loss of feeling on one side of the body
  • Confusion
  • Speech difficulties
  • Dizziness
  • Vision loss or blurred vision on one side
  • Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
  • Sudden and severe headache

If symptoms last less than 24 hours, the stroke is called a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or mini-stroke.

Without immediate treatment, the effects of a stroke can be permanent or lead to death.

How can high blood pressure cause strokes?

High blood pressure (hypertension) affects both forms of stroke by putting a strain on blood vessels, including the ones leading to the brain. This causes significant stiffening of the vessels  and narrows the pathways for blood to flow, which may  cause a blockage, or increased pressure, which in turn may lead to a stroke. In haemorrhagic strokes, that hypertensive strain can cause blood vessels to burst in the brain, leading to bleeding and damage to surrounding brain cells.

According to the Stroke Association, hypertension is the single biggest risk factor for stroke and 50% of all stroke patients have a history of high blood pressure according to a 2020 article in Acute Neurology. But it is also a modifiable risk factor and the most important, meaning it can be managed and treated to reduce the risk.

For more on how to do that, read our guides on monitoring your blood pressure, exercise as a way to lower blood pressure, and a guide to hypertension.

Prevention, and treatment

Besides high blood pressure, there are many risk factors for strokes including:

  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Excessive drug taking

There are also some risk factors that can’t be controlled such as age, gender, and race but many have crossovers with the causes of hypertension so there are similar ways to prevent and treat strokes.

Prevention

As mentioned above, there are some stroke risk factors that can’t be controlled but for hypertension, you can make small changes in your lifestyle to drastically reduce the risk of strokes including:

  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Monitoring your blood pressure regularly
  • Exercising regularly

Always speak to a qualified medical professional before undertaking any significant changes to your diet or physical exercise.

Read more: How to Lower Blood Pressure

Treatment

There are different forms of treatment for both ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes. Some of these primarily reduce high blood pressure which, in turn, reduces the risk of a stroke.

Ischemic strokes

  • Thrombolysis, through medicine called alteplase which dissolves blood clots
  • Thrombectomy (an emergency procedure that removes blood clots)
  • Statins
  • Antiplatelets
  • Anticoagulants
  • ACE inhibitors and alpha/beta blockers

Haemorrhagic strokes

Due to the nature of haemorrhagic strokes, treatments can run the spectrum of supportive care, to catheter-based interventions, or surgery. 

Conclusion

As high blood pressure is the most likely cause of a stroke, it’s crucial to keep BP levels as close to normal range as possible. We recommend regular blood pressure monitoring as a simple but effective way to help and Aktiia makes this a breeze. Aktiia’s BP monitor is easy to wear, gives important insights into your heart health 24/7, and provides a summary you can share with your doctor.

Order your Aktiia blood pressure monitor today.

 

Aktiia Team Written by The Aktiia Team

Our mission is to help people live free from hypertension.

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