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HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE

HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE AND EFFECTS ON STROKE:  

Health Fit Treatment Wellness Concept

High blood pressure usually has no symptoms, but it is the most significant risk factor for stroke.  Both lifestyle changes and medication can help to lower your blood pressure and so reduce the risk of stroke.  Both lifestyle changes and medication can help to lower blood pressure and thus reduce the risks associated with strokes.

THE BLOOD PRESSURE

Doctor and nurse talking to a patient in a hospital ward

The heart pumps blood all around the body through arteries.  Blood pressure is a measure of how strongly the blood passes against the walls of the arteries.  If this pressure is too high, it puts a strain on the highways and the heart, which makes it more likely that individual will suffer health problems such as stroke, a heart attack, or kidney disease.

High blood pressure varies throughout the day.  It can go down if you are asleep or sitting quietly and can go up if you are rushing about or stressed.  High blood pressure develops when the strength of the blood running through the arteries is consistently too high.  The medical term for high blood pressure is hypertension.

High blood pressure is a common problem, affecting millions of people throughout the world.  It often has no symptoms; so having it measured is the only way to tell if blood pressure is high.

WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE AND STROKE

If you have high blood pressure untreated to keep it under control, it increases the risk of having a stroke.  High blood pressure is the single most significant risk factor for stroke, causing about 50 per cent of strokes due to a blockage (Ischaemic strokes).  It also increases the risk of bleeding in the brain (called a haemorrhagic stroke).

Young man taking the blood pressure of an older lady

High blood pressure puts a strain on all the blood vessels throughout the body, including the ones leading to the brain.  As a result, the heart has to work much harder to keep the blood circulation going.  This strain can damage the blood vessels, causing them to become harder and narrower, a condition called atherosclerosis.  It makes a blockage more likely to occur, which could cause a stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA, sometimes called a mini-stroke).

WHAT ARE THE CAUSES HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE 

High blood pressure can develop for a variety of reasons.  Lifestyle factors such as being overweight, smoking, drinking too much alcohol, not exercising and eating an unhealthy diet can all lead to high blood pressure.  Blood pressure tends to rise as we get older, so the pressure is more common in middle-aged and older people.  Underlining medical conditions leads to high blood pressure in some cases.  Some people are also more at risk than others.  Blood pressure problems can run in families and certain ethnic groups, such as South Asian and African-Caribbean.

HOW DO YOU MEASURE BLOOD PRESSURE

Measuring blood pressure is quick, painless and straightforward.  Measurement is carried out at the doctor’s surgery in the community and in-patient at the hospitals. Individuals can take their blood measurement at home with blood pressure monitors. A cuff is placed around your arm and then inflated, while a machine records your blood pressure. Sometimes the doctor will use a stethoscope to listen to the blood flow more significant if irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation is present.

 DIAGNOSES AND TREATMENT

Before being diagnosed with high blood pressure, doctors may take a few readings over days or weeks to make sure that the top results are consistent, and it’s not a reaction to being at the surgery or in the hospital.  Some people feel anxious about having their blood pressure taken and have a high reading then when at other times the blood pressure is normal. The condition is called white coat hypertension. Check with your doctor for diagnoses.

group of black doctors and nurses isolated on white

African general practitioner checking patient’s blood pressure in the office

Most people with high blood pressure will need to take medication to reduce it.  Changing lifestyle can also help to bring it down. The doctor will usually aim to reduce the upper figure of blood pressure to lower numbers.  If diabetes, strokes or heart attack is present, the aim will be to reduce the blood pressure even further.  To achieve this target is not always possible, but small reductions in the blood pressure can significantly reduce the risk of having a stroke.

CREDIT TO STROKE ASSOCIATION UK

 

“IT IS IMPORTANT THAT BLOOD PRESSURE IS MONITORED”

 

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