How High Blood Pressure Can Lead to Stroke

Stroke and high blood pressure

Stroke is a leading cause of death and severe, long-term disability. Most people who’ve had a first stroke also had high blood pressure.

ischemic stroke

High blood pressure damages arteries throughout the body, creating conditions in which they can burst or clog more easily. Weakened or blocked arteries in the brain put you at a much higher risk for stroke, which is why managing high blood pressure is critical to reducing your stroke risk.

What happens when you have a stroke

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel to the brain is narrowed or blocked by a clot (ischemic stroke) or bursts (hemorrhagic stroke). When that happens, part of the brain is no longer getting the blood and oxygen it needs; so it starts to die. Your brain controls your movement and thoughts, so a stroke threatens your ability to think, move and function. Strokes also can affect language, memory and vision. Severe strokes may even cause paralysis or death.

A majority of strokes are ischemic strokes (Cerebral thrombosis and cerebral embolism are causes of ischemic strokes.) Watch an interactive animation of an ischemic stroke.

A much smaller percentage of strokes are hemorrhagic strokes (cerebral hemorrhages) that occur when a blood vessel ruptures in or near the brain, resulting in a subarachnoid hemorrhage on the surface of the brain or intracerebral hemorrhage deep within the brain. View a detailed animation of a hemorrhagic stroke.

A TIA (transient ischemic attack) is caused by a temporary clot. Often called a “mini stroke,” these warning strokes should be taken seriously. See what happens during a TIA.

Don’t let high blood pressure lead to stroke:

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