How High Blood Pressure Can Lead to Stroke

Updated:Jan 29,2018

Fight stroke: keep blood pressure management top of mind

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 (HBP or hypertension).

High blood pressure damages arteries throughout the body, creating conditions where they can burst or clog more easily. Weakened arteries in the brain, resulting from high blood pressure, put you at a much higher risk for stroke — which is why managing high blood pressure is critical to reduce your chance of having a stroke.

What happens when you have a stroke 
A stroke occurs when a blood vessel to the brain is either 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 doesn't only hurt your brain — it can threaten your ability to think, move and function. Strokes can affect language, memory and vision. Severe strokes may even cause paralysis or death.


Watch an animation of ischemic strokeA majority of strokes are ischemic strokes — caused by narrowed or clogged blood vessels (atherosclerosis) in the brain that cut off the blood flow to brain cells. (Cerebral thrombosis and cerebral embolism are ischemic strokes.)
Watch an animation of hemorrhagic strokeA 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 (SAH) on the surface of the brain or intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) deep within the brain.
See what happens during a TIAA TIA (transient ischemic attack) is caused by a temporary clot. Often called a “mini stroke,” these warning strokes should be taken very seriously.

Don’t let high blood pressure lead to stroke


This content was last reviewed October 2016.

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