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High Blood Pressure and Risk Factors for Stroke

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Posted at 5:00 PM, May 15, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-15 19:00:55-04

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain bursts or become blocked, causing brain cells to die. Nearly 800,000 Americans suffer from stroke every year, and more than 76 million Americans have high blood pressure. These statistics are important to keep in mind when considering how critical it is to control high blood pressure. High blood pressure is the most common risk factor for stroke—the risk of stroke almost doubles when high blood pressure is present.

Why is high blood pressure a risk factor for stroke?

Blood pressure measures the force, or pressure, pushing outward on the artery walls. When blood pressure is too high, the arteries walls can gradually stretch beyond the healthy limit, which can create vascular weakness, increased plaque buildup, and increased risk of blood clotting. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can cause the blood vessels in the brain to narrow, leak, or burst. Blood flow in the brain can also become blocked by blood clots in the arteries that supply blood to the brain.

How you can reduce your risk of stroke

Stroke can be prevented, even if you have high blood pressure. Here are ways you can lower your risk:

-Quit smoking

-Exercise regularly

-Maintain a healthy weight

-Eat a healthy diet, especially one with limited salt

-Limit your alcohol intake

-Reduce stress

-Monitor your blood pressure

-If lifestyle changes do not work, medication may be prescribed to control high blood pressure

Davis Hospital and Medical Center, Salt Lake Regional Medical Center, Jordan Valley Medical Center, and Pioneer Valley Hospital are offering a $30 Leg Screening that screens for PAD and a $69 HeartView Screening. Schedule an appointment by calling 866-431-WELL (9355).