How Does Hypertension Increase the Risk of Stroke? How to Prevent a Stroke Due to Hypertension?

Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)
Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)

General Physician | 6+ years

Hypertension and Stroke
Living with diabetes, hypertension or any other chronic disease requires you to do multiple things – track vitals, take medicines & stay on top of your health at all times. If this overwhelms you, switch to Phable – India’s No. 1 BP & Sugar Management App to manage your condition better. Take charge of your health and stay connected with doctors, order medicines and do a whole lot more from the comfort of your home.

Is your blood pressure under control? High blood pressure is a chronic condition that is common and often difficult to detect as it is asymptomatic. However, it is important that you catch it early in order to avoid complications like heart attack and stroke. Did you know that high blood pressure can be one of the biggest culprits that can cause stroke? Yes! You heard that right. Read on to know how high blood pressure can lead to stroke.

Contents:
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    Understanding Hypertension and Stroke
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    How Does Hypertension Increase the Risk of Stroke?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    Know Who is at Risk
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    How to Prevent a Stroke Due to Hypertension
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    When to See a Doctor?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    Don’t Have Time To Read?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    FAQs
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Understanding High Blood Pressure and Stroke

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a common condition where your blood pressure (the force exerted by the blood against the walls of your blood vessels) is consistently too high. Your blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood pumped by your heart and the resistance in the blood vessels of your heart. Normal blood pressure is less than or equal to 120/80 mm Hg and if your blood pressure is constantly above 140/90 mm Hg you have high blood pressure.

High blood pressure can put constant stress on your blood vessels. It can weaken your blood vessel walls and stiffen them. Eventually, this can even lead to small tears in the blood vessel walls leading to the accumulation of plaque (atherosclerosis). This can interrupt the blood flow to your vital organs affecting their functioning. It increases the risk of complications such as stroke.

A stroke is a medical emergency that occurs when there is a blockage in the blood supply to the brain (ischaemic stroke) or when the blood vessels in the brain burst (hemorrhagic stroke). This prevents blood and oxygen from reaching the brain tissues and leads to damage to the brain cells that become devoid of oxygen. Some of the symptoms of stroke include paralysis, numbness or weakness in the arms or legs, slurred speech, confusion and disorientation. High blood pressure can be a major risk factor for stroke. Read on to know how.

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How Does Hypertension Increase the Risk of Stroke?

High blood pressure puts you at risk of stroke. Long-standing or uncontrolled blood pressure can damage your blood vessels affecting your blood circulation. This includes the blood vessels that supply your brain. The increased pressure in the blood vessels can eventually block the blood vessels or rupture them affecting the blood flow to the brain. Without a sufficient supply of oxygen and other nutrients, the brain’s cells gradually die.

Your brain controls your movement and thoughts and a stroke threatens your ability to think, move and function normally. It can affect your language, memory and vision. In severe cases, it may even lead to paralysis and death.

Know Who is at Risk

Certain factors increase your risk of developing high blood pressure:

Diabetes

High blood sugar levels if not managed efficiently can cause damage to your blood vessels. This can interrupt your blood circulation and lead to an increased blood pressure that can increase the propensity of developing a stroke.

High Cholesterol

When there is excess cholesterol in the bloodstream it tends to get deposited along the blood vessel walls narrowing your arteries. This can affect your blood flow and increase your blood pressure which can increase your risk of stroke.

Obesity

Obesity is a major risk factor for hypertension. Those who are obese have increased absorption of sodium in their body which can increase their blood volume and thereby the blood pressure. This could be due to the activated sympathetic nervous system (a division of your nervous system that controls various important functions in the body) or the renin-angiotensin system ( a physiological system that regulates your blood pressure) and high pressure within the kidney.

Physical Inactivity

Individuals who are less active or those who lead a sedentary lifestyle are more likely to develop high blood pressure. Regular exercise helps improve your heart rate and blood circulation minimising the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.

Poor Diet

Your diet plays an important role in maintaining healthy blood pressure. To lower your blood pressure it is necessary that you avoid foods that are high in salt and unhealthy fats. Choose a diet that is high in fibre, proteins, and rich in nutrients such as potassium and magnesium.

How to Prevent a Stroke Due to Hypertension?

Leading a healthy lifestyle is a strong shield against hypertension and its damaging effects. Taking these small steps can help prevent the development of stroke due to high blood pressure.

  • Be more active and maintain a healthy weight 
  • Limit your sodium intake (up to 2300 mg a day)
  • Have a healthy diet and limit processed food
  • Practice stress management techniques
  • Quit smoking and cut back on alcohol
  • Monitor your blood pressure levels regularly
  • Take all medications as prescribed by your doctor

When to See a Doctor?

Looking out for the emergency signs is crucial when it comes to stroke. Learning the F.A.S.T signs will help you save a life from stroke.

  • F = Face drooping: One side of the face may droop or become numb. The person might exhibit an uneven smile.
  • A = Arm weakness: One arm may become weak or numb. While lifting both the arms, one arm may drift downward.
  • S = Speech Difficulties: The person may have difficulty speaking and will mostly have slurred speech.
  • T = Time to call your doctor

If you or a family member experiences any of the following symptoms make sure not to wait for the symptoms to subside. Seek immediate medical care as the longer a stroke goes undetected, the greater is the potential for brain damage and disability. 

Don’t Have Time To Read?

  • High blood pressure is a major risk factor for stroke. Long-standing or uncontrolled blood pressure can damage your blood vessels affecting your blood circulation. This includes the blood vessels that supply your brain. 
  • The increased pressure in the blood vessels can eventually block the blood vessels or rupture them affecting the blood flow to the brain. Without a sufficient supply of oxygen and other nutrients, the brain’s cells gradually die.
  • Your brain controls your movement and thoughts and a stroke threatens your ability to think, move and function normally. It can affect your language, memory and vision. In severe cases, it may even lead to paralysis and death.
  • Certain factors such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and obesity. Physical inactivity and poor diet can lead to high blood pressure and increase the risk of stroke.
  • Having a healthy diet, staying more active, limiting your sodium intake, managing stress, cutting back on alcohol and quitting smoking are some ways to prevent high blood pressure and prevent stroke.
  • Seek emergency care if you notice warning signs such as drooping of one side of the face, weakness in one side of your body or slurred speech. Remember that the longer a stroke goes undetected, the greater is the potential for brain damage and disability.
  • Use the Phable Care App to consult India’s leading cardiologists, order medicines, book lab tests, integrate BP monitors and other devices to get real-time remote care from the comfort of your home. Also, check out our Hypertension Management Program which provides ‎360º care. Let’s treat low/high blood pressure problems together.

Frequently Asked Questions

High blood pressure increases the risk of having a stroke by 50 to 60%. The increased pressure in the blood vessels can eventually block the blood vessels or rupture them affecting the blood flow to the brain. Without a sufficient supply of oxygen and other nutrients, the brain's cells gradually die.

The warning signs of stroke that you need to look out for include numbness on one side of the face, an asymmetrical smile, weakness in one arm or leg, and slurred speech. If you notice these signs it is important that you seek immediate medical attention.

Hypertension can damage your blood vessels along with major organs like your heart, kidneys, brain, and eyes.

Some individuals may have a stroke without realising it. These strokes are known as silent strokes. These strokes do not show any easy-to-recognise symptoms but can do considerable damage to your brain. You probably won’t know that you have had a silent stroke unless the damage is detected through a brain scan.

Dehydration or drinking less water than what is required can make your blood viscous and increase your blood pressure. Drinking more water can keep you hydrated and make your blood less viscous. This in turn helps control your blood pressure and reduce the risk of a stroke.

When your blood pressure is constantly above a range of 140/90 mm Hg, then you have high blood pressure and are at risk of a stroke. Those who are at a risk of developing a stroke should therefore constantly monitor their blood pressure levels and those who are already diagnosed with high blood pressure should follow their doctor’s instructions carefully in order to avoid the risk of stroke.

It is possible that you can still get a stroke while on blood pressure medications. If you are under treatment for high blood pressure, make sure that you follow your doctor's instructions carefully and take the medications as prescribed. Also, monitor your blood pressure regularly in order to change your medications or dosages if required. If you are not following these instructions carefully it is possible that your blood pressure may rise to dangerous levels increasing the risk of stroke.

Dr. Pakhi Sharma
Dr. Pakhi Sharma, MBBS
(General physician, 6+ years)
An expert in obstetrics and medical emergencies, Dr. Pakhi Sharma, an alumni of Sri Devaraj Urs University of Higher Education and Research Centre, is a general physician working at Phablecare. She has 6+ years of work experience spread across gynaecology and obstetrics, family medicine, and medical emergencies at renowned hospitals and clinics.

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