High blood pressure is one of the leading risk factors for stroke, and more than 100 million Americans have high blood pressure according to the American Heart Association. Though the statistics are daunting, you can fight them by better understanding the link between high blood pressure and stroke. Read on to learn how high blood pressure causes a stroke, the symptoms of stroke and how you can prevent high blood pressure.
How High Blood Pressure Can Cause a Stroke
Stroke occurs when your brain is deprived of blood and oxygen due to a blocked or a burst blood vessel. When a blood vessel is blocked, the stroke is referred to as an ischemic stroke, when a blood vessel bursts it is referred to as hemorrhagic stroke – and either can occur due to high blood pressure.
High blood pressure damages and weakens your arteries, which makes them more susceptible to ruptures and blockage. By managing your blood pressure, you can keep your arteries strong and better equipped to fight off stroke along with a slew of other conditions, including heart disease, kidney disease and dementia.
Signs of High Blood Pressure
You should have your blood pressure checked every time you go to the doctor, but make a special trip to have it evaluated if you notice any of the following:
Fatigue or Confusion
Pounding in Chest or Head
How to Control Blood Pressure
Whether you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure and regularly take medication or want to take preventive measures against developing the condition, there are several lifestyle choices you can make to help maintain healthy blood pressure levels.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Your blood pressure often increases with your weight. For men, the risk of developing high blood pressure increases when their waist measurement exceeds 40 inches, while women’s risk increases when their waist measurement is greater than 35 inches.
Consistent exercise strengthens your cardiovascular system and effectively lowers blood pressure. Do a combination of strength and aerobic exercise for at least 150 minutes each week for the best results.
Consume a healthy diet.
Sticking to a diet of vegetables, fruits, lean meat and whole grains is one of the simplest ways to improve your blood pressure.
Those with high blood pressure should avoid consuming more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day, but 1,500 is ideal. Decrease sodium in your diet by avoiding processed food and seasoning food with herbs and spices rather than salt.
Chronic stress is often directly correlated with high blood pressure. Take measures to limit your stressors by avoiding your stress triggers, taking time to relax and practicing gratitude each day.
Find out how caffeine affects you.
For people who rarely consume caffeine, even small amounts may raise blood pressure, while regular caffeine users may see no change in blood pressure. Find out if caffeine has an adverse effect on your blood pressure by drinking a caffeinated beverage, then checking your blood pressure 30 minutes later. If your blood pressure increases by even 5 mm Hg, you may be sensitive to caffeine.
Alcohol in moderate amounts can raise your blood pressure and even render blood pressure medication ineffective.
Cigarettes raise blood pressure immediately after they are smoked, leading those who regularly smoke to also have a consistently elevated blood pressure.
Monitor your blood pressure.
Regularly measuring your blood pressure can provide valuable information on what raises and lowers your blood pressure, and the measures you need to take to keep it at a healthy level.
The effects of high blood pressure can be daunting, but at Baptist Health, we offer the resources you need to help maintain healthy levels – and potentially prevent stroke. If you’d like more support controlling your blood pressure, sign up for Know It, Control It! Our free high blood pressure management program.