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Hypertension and stroke. Let’s talk.

When your blood pressure is persistently high, you have hypertension. High blood pressure increases your risk of stroke. Deliberate to maintain your blood pressure within the acceptable range to mitigate the risks of stroke and other cerebrovascular events.

For any stroke, hypertension remains a formidable risk factor in about 90% of the cases. We can prevent up to 40% of all strokes by controlling blood pressure within the normal limits. If your blood pressure is consistently on the upper limit of normal, your chances of suffering a stroke are high enough to warrant cautionary measures.

We consider blood pressures of 120/80 mm Hg and below as conventional. Attend to any values higher than 130/80 mm Hg if you have a cardiovascular disease with symptoms.  Or your 10-year risk of the disease is above 10%, but you are asymptomatic. After a stroke, you must start medications if your blood pressure is above 140/90 mm Hg. Besides drugs, restricting salt, weight loss, and regular exercise are paramount to curbing hypertension.

It’s imperative that you know the normal and abnormal blood pressure values. The table below will suffice.

Blood pressure categorySystolic BP (mm Hg)Diastolic BP (mm Hg)
Normalless than 120andless than 80
Elevated120-129andless than 80
Hypertension stage 1130-139or80-89
Hypertension stage 2140 or higheror90 or higher
Hypertensive crisishigher than 180and/ orhigher than 120


Stroke prevention: Mitigate the risk factors

If you’re to take medications, only take those that your clinician has prescribed. Unlike most analgesics, never self-medicate antihypertensives. Only use as prescribed. Controlling hypertension is two-way traffic. Both you and your doctor put in an effort. Ideally, when you receive a diagnosis of hypertension, the clinician requests a few investigations to delineate the cause, if any. They may involve the heart, liver, and kidneys.

It’s prudent that you always know your blood pressure. You can accomplish this by routinely undergoing medical check-ups. Almost all hospitals measure blood pressures at no cost.

In a nutshell, hypertension remains a formidable risk factor for suffering a stroke. Endeavour to ascertain the status of your blood pressure and have it under control if it’s out of proportion. Remember that you can lower your blood pressure without medications – through lifestyle modifications.

Be smart. Be safe.

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MBChB (MUK), Graduate Fellow, Department of Physiology, Makerere University Founder and Content Creator Peer reviewer, Associate Editor

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