All publications are reviewed for scientific and medical accuracy by National Stroke Association’s PublicationsCommittee. © 2009 National Stroke Association. 06/09
For people over age 18, normal bloodpressure is lower than 120/80. A bloodpressure reading consistently 120/80 to139/89 is pre-hypertension. If yours fallsin this range, you are more likely toprogress to high blood pressure. Alsocalled hypertension, high blood pressureis a reading of 140/90 or higher.
Have your blood pressure checked atleast once each year — more often if youhave high blood pressure, have had aheart attack or stroke, are diabetic, havekidney disease, have high cholesterol orare overweight. If you are at risk forhigh blood pressure, ask your doctorhow to manage it more aggressively.Often blood pressure can be controlledthrough diet and exercise. Even lightexercise
a brisk walk, bicycle ride, swimor yard work
can make a difference.Adults should do some form of moderatephysical activity for at least 30 minutes fiveor more days per week, according to theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention.Regular exercise may reduce your risk of stroke. Before you start an exercise program,check with your doctor.
Your Blood Pressure is High
What do you do if you still have high bloodpressure, even though you have made aneffort to eat healthy foods and exercise?Then it’s time to talk to your doctor.A doctor can advise you about betterlifestyle choices. Medicine may also beneeded.Many drugs can help treat high bloodpressure. The most common are calciumchannel blockers or ACE-inhibitors. Youmay have to try several different drugsbefore you find one that works for you. Thisis common. So, try not to be discouraged if it happens. Once you find a drug that works,take it as directed and exactly as prescribed,even when you feel fine.
Medicine may help reduce stroke risk. Inaddition to those that treat high bloodpressure, drugs are also available to controlhigh cholesterol and treat heart disease.There are also drugs that can interfere withthe blood’s tendency to form potentialstroke-causing blood clots.
Many forms of heart disease can increaseyour stroke risk. One form
known asatrial fibrillation or AF
causes blood toform clots that can travel to the brain andcause a stroke. AF is an irregular heartbeat.Warfarin (Coumadin
) and aspirin are oftenprescribed to treat AF. People takingwarfarin should be monitored carefully by adoctor. Also, people taking this drug shouldlimit foods rich in vitamin K, which in largequantities may offset the drug’s effects.Examples of these foods include green leafyvegetables, alfalfa, egg yolks, soy bean oiland fish livers.
High levels of cholesterol may also increasestroke risk by not letting blood move freelythrough the arteries. Cholesterol build-upcan break off. This can cause a clot to formor a stroke to occur. A few drugs, such asstatins, may help lower cholesterol. Somestatins have helped reduce the risk of strokeor TIA in people who have had a heartattack. They have even helped some withaverage or only slightly high cholesterol.
There are also a few drugs that can preventclots, helping reduce risk of a second stroke.