High blood pressure could lead to a stroke
GEHA | May 21, 2019
High blood pressure can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. It is called the silent killer because it often has no warning signs or symptoms, and many people don’t know they have it.
High blood pressure means the pressure of the blood in your blood vessels is higher than it should be. Normal blood pressure is considered lower than 120/80. When high blood pressure is uncontrolled, you are at risk for more than heart disease. It can damage your brain, kidneys or eyes, cause bone loss or trouble sleeping.
Sometimes blood pressure rises so quickly and severely that it becomes a medical emergency requiring immediate treatment, often with hospitalization.
High blood pressure can cause:
- Stroke or heart attack
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Sudden loss of kidney function
- Complications in pregnant women
- Memory loss, personality changes, trouble concentrating, irritability or progressive loss of consciousness
It’s important to check your blood pressure regularly. If you already have high blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe medications and lifestyle changes. Lifestyle changes are just as important as medications and include diet, exercise and quitting smoking.
Strokes happen in two main ways. A clot could block the blood flow to your brain. Another possibility is a blood vessel bursting or leaking in your brain. Without oxygen and nutrients from blood, the affected part of your brain quickly starts to die.
Stroke symptoms include:
- Sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the body
- Confusion or not able to talk
- Double or blurred vision
- Sudden dizziness, trouble walking, loss of balance or falling
- Sudden severe headache
It is critical to act fast for stroke patients. The stroke treatments that work best are available only if the stroke is diagnosed within three hours of the first symptom. If you think someone may be having a stroke, remember the “FAST” acronym to do a simple test:
F – Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A – Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S – Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?
T – Time: If you see any of these signs, call 911 right away.
Note the time when any symptoms first appear. This information helps health care providers determine the best treatment. Do not drive to the hospital or let someone else drive you. Call an ambulance so that medical personnel can begin lifesaving treatment on the way to the emergency room.
“Controlling Blood Pressure.” cdc.gov, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 7 July 2014.
“High Blood Pressure.” cdc.gov, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 April 2019.
“Stroke Signs and Symptoms.” cdc.gov, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 27 March 2018.
“High blood pressure dangers: Hypertension’s effects on your body.” Mayoclinic.org, Mayo Clinic, 9 January 2019.
“What is a Stroke?” webmd.com, WebMd LLC, 12 July 2017