How High Blood Pressure Increases Your Chances of a Stroke

August 11, 2022

Authored by:
Rorah Ndungu
Presidential Scholar | Georgia State University
Honors College | Class of 2024

Edited by: 
Ndidiamaka Obadan, MD, MS, FASN
CEO, Youngerself MD,  Health and Wellness Center

We’ve all heard that high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can lead to health problems, such as kidney disease, heart failure, or heart attacks. But did you know that hypertension also damages the brain, thereby causing a stroke? But before discussing how uncontrolled blood pressure leads to a stroke, let’s define a few keywords. 

High Blood Pressure/Hypertension

High Blood Pressure (hypertension) refers to the increased force of blood flowing through your blood vessels. Blood vessels are tubes inside our body that transport blood to different organs and tissues. What makes hypertension so dangerous is that, if left untreated, high blood pressure can quietly damage your body for years before you start to feel any symptoms. At first glance, increased blood pressure flow might seem harmless, right? You might think that increased blood flow would be good for our bodies. However, our blood vessels are not designed to deal with the increased force of blood flow caused by high blood pressure. Imagine water in a garden hose. If the water pressure is too high for a long time, the walls of the hose will get thinner, causing tiny leaks to form. High blood pressure affects our blood vessels in a similar way and can damage the inside of blood vessels over time. When fats from our food enter our bloodstream, they can collect in the damaged blood vessels, causing plaque buildup. Plaque buildup leads to damaged and narrowed vessels and can cause blood clots to form, limiting the amount of blood flow in the body.

Constant high blood pressure moving through damaged blood vessels can also cause a part of the blood vessel wall to enlarge and form a bulge (aneurysm). If not treated, this bulge could burst and cause life-threatening internal bleeding. 

Stroke

The brain is an important organ, we can all agree. The brain controls our ability to talk, eat, walk, balance, and do so much more. So, it’s no surprise that proper brain function is vital for life. The brain needs a lot of blood to work properly. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to parts of the brain is reduced or blocked. This decrease in the amount of blood the brain receives results in the brain receiving less oxygen and nutrients, causing parts of the brain to die. The effects of a stroke can be life-changing. The inability to walk or move your arms and legs, pain, memory loss, and difficulty swallowing or talking are all side effects of having a stroke. 

How to Decrease your Blood Pressure

Stroke is a word none of us want to hear when we visit our doctor. Managing your high blood pressure is one of the best ways to ensure you never do. Many lifestyle changes can help you achieve this goal. 

  • Watch your weight and try to stay in the recommended range. As you gain weight, your blood pressure often increases as well. 
  •  Exercise regularly or include more physical activity in your daily routine
    • Try aiming for 30 minutes of physical activity every day
  • Decrease the amount of salt you eat daily:
    • Read food labels to look at the amount of salt included and try to choose low-salt food options.
    • A habit that most of us are guilty of is adding salt to our food before tasting it. One of the easiest ways to decrease the amount of salt we eat is by tasting our food before adding salt. 
    • When cooking, use herbs and spices to flavor food instead of salt. You’d be surprised at just how flavorful your food can be, even without salt!
  • Don’t drink too much alcohol or caffeine
    • Limiting alcohol to less than one drink a day for women or two drinks a day for men can help lower blood pressure
  • Get a good night’s sleep
    • Sleeping fewer than six hours every night for several weeks can cause hypertension. It is recommended that adults get seven or more hours of sleep every night. 
  • Quit smoking
  • Reduce the amount of stress in your life
  • Visit your physician to discuss personalized ways to decrease your blood pressure,
    • The experienced and caring team at Youngerself MD provides management for high blood pressure. 

These are just a few ways that you can manage your blood pressure. With the proper support and guidance, it is easy to follow these tips if you apply them one at a time. Maybe start taking a 15-minute walk every morning and afternoon or try going to bed 30 minutes earlier if you are not getting enough sleep. These are not changes that can happen overnight. But if you try to improve one day at a time, you’ll find that managing high blood pressure is not as hard as it seems.
Youngerself MD utilizes a Hybrid model which combines DPC/DSC and insurance-based care to provide comprehensive, holistic, and integrative health care services at an affordable cost. We are currently accepting new patients. Experience all the great services Youngerself MD has to offer and schedule an appointment today, at www.youngerselfmd.com or call 404 566 4623. We can’t wait to assist you in achieving your health care goals.

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