Every day that your blood pressure is too high, your odds of having a stroke are increased. Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mmHg). This means a systolic of less than 120 mmHg and diastolic of less than 80 mmHg. A stroke is a loss of brain function caused by a sudden deficit of blood to part of the brain. Stroke is caused by the damage that continuous high blood pressure causes in your blood vessels. If the affected vessel obstructs the supply of blood to the brain, a stroke happens.
How high blood pressure damages blood vessels
When blood puts pressure against vessel walls with too much force, muscles in the wall may lose their ability to stretch. This can cause the walls to thicken, which then narrows the vessel and reduces blood flow.
High blood pressure can damage blood vessel walls and create scar tissue. Fat and cholesterol (plaque) can collect in these damaged areas. Blood cells stick to the plaque, which can form a mass called a clot. These clots can block blood flow in the vessels.
Sometimes blood flows with enough pressure to weaken vessel walls. If the vessel is damaged or small, the wall may break. When this occurs, blood leaks out to nearby tissue and kills cells. Other cells may die because oxygenated blood cannot reach them.
Knowing the Symptoms of Stroke
Blood supply to the brain is suddenly blocked during a stroke. However, recognizing the symptoms and getting medical help fast, better recovery is much more likely. Do not wait. If you have any of these, Call 911:
- Sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the face or body, including a leg or an arm
- Difficulty seeing with one or both eyes
- Double vision
- Difficulty talking, such as slurred speech
- Severe headache
- Problems using or understanding words
- Sudden confusion
- Sudden dizziness or loss of balance
- Seizures for the first time
- Or if any of these symptoms occur and then go away