High blood pressure
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is the most important known risk factor for stroke.
Blood pressure is a measure of the force with which blood presses on the walls of your arteries as it is pumped around your body. This pumping action is driven by your heart.
Normal blood pressure is around 120/80. If your blood pressure is regularly over 140/90, you have high blood pressure.
High blood pressure puts a strain on blood vessels all over the body, including the arteries that lead to the brain. This means the heart has to work much harder to keep the blood circulation going.
High blood pressure can lead to a stroke in several ways:
- It damages blood vessel walls and makes them weaker.
- It can speed up common forms of heart disease.
- It can cause blood clots or plaques to
break off artery walls and block a brain
The higher the blood pressure, the greater the stroke risk.
What causes high blood pressure?
In most cases it is impossible to pinpoint an exact cause. However, there are a number of risk factors that have been linked to high blood pressure. These include:
- A family history of high blood pressure
- Age (blood pressure can rise as people get older)
- Men are more likely to have high blood pressure than women
- Being overweight
- Excessive alcohol drinking
- Lack of exercise
- A diet high in salt.
Control your risk
Know your blood pressure and keep it down. Your doctor can help you to regularly check your blood pressure.
Everyone who has had a stroke should be on blood pressure lowering medication. This is even if you have ‘normal’ blood pressure.
The lower your blood pressure, the lower your risk of stroke.
How to check that a blood pressure monitor has been properly tested for accuracy
Download information sheet for more information.