Researchers and doctors have known for years that high blood pressure causes strokes. The connection between high blood pressure and strokes is well documented. But did you know that high blood pressure also increases your risk of having a \u201cmini stroke\u201d \u2014 and can even lead to other brain disorders like dementia?\nLearn more about the services at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute.\u00a0Call us at 412-232-8840. \n \r\n \r\n Subscribe to our heart health newsletter \r\n \r\n Enter your email to subscribe\r\n \r\n \r\n\t \r\n \r\n Continue\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n I understand that by providing my email address, I agree to receive emails from UPMC. I understand that I may opt out of receiving such communications at any time.\r\n \r\n \r\n \nWhat Happens When You Have High Blood Pressure\nHypertension, or high blood pressure, is known as \u201cthe silent killer\u201d because you don\u2019t feel, hear, or see any symptoms. When you have hypertension, the force of the blood pushing against your arteries is too strong. Your heart has to work harder than it should, which can damage your arteries and organs over time and lead to a multitude of health problems.\nOver time, high blood pressure can cause strokes and heart disease. Research also indicates that people with hypertension have more problems with their memory, including a greater chance of developing dementia.\nThe Link Between High Blood Pressure and Strokes\nHere\u2019s how high blood pressure causes strokes: According to the American Heart Association, chronic high blood pressure eventually damages blood vessels throughout the body. When that happens, arteries can burst or clog more easily. A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted when a blood vessel either bursts or is blocked by a blood clot.\nA stroke can be life threatening. When part of the brain is no longer receiving blood and oxygen, brain cells start to die. Strokes can lead to impaired vision, language, balance, and memory. They also can cause partial paralysis or death.\nHigh Blood Pressure and Mini Strokes\nA mini stroke, or transient ischemic attack (TIA), occurs when a temporary clot forms. The symptoms are similar to a full-blown stroke: paralysis or numbness on one side of the body, difficulty talking, trouble with balance, blurred vision, confusion, and an altered sense of taste or smell.\nHigh blood pressure can cause both strokes and TIAs; the major difference is how long they last. Mini strokes typically last only a few minutes. But because the symptoms are so similar, you should call 911 if a loved one shows signs of a stroke \u2014 even if their symptoms disappear in a few minutes.\nPreventing High Blood Pressure and Strokes\nThe best way to combat high blood pressure is to adopt a healthy lifestyle, get regular physical exams, and check your blood pressure periodically between doctor visits.\nSome tips for a healthier lifestyle include:\n\nFind a form of exercise you enjoy; it can be as simple as taking a 30-minute walk every day. And recruit an exercise buddy. You\u2019re more likely to make it a habit if it\u2019s something you enjoy or do with a friend.\nManage your weight to prevent high blood pressure and strokes, which occur more often in overweight or obese people. Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables.\nPractice good sleep habits.\nQuit smoking; it is the number one risk factor for stroke.\n\nTo learn more about hypertension and strokes, call the UPMC Stroke Institute at 412-232-8840. The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute is also a great source of information about high blood pressure and stroke.