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1 take a moment Blood pressure information pack Together we can conquer stroke

2 Introduction By reading this booklet you re taking the first step to reduce your risk of stroke. Stroke strikes every three and a half minutes in the UK Over half of all strokes may be caused by high blood pressure Studies have shown that around four-fifths of men and two-thirds of women with high blood pressure are not being treated. Far too many people don t understand stroke, and think it won t happen to them. But the good news is that stroke can be prevented. Take a moment to reduce your risk of stroke and check your blood pressure. It s simple, quick and painless and you can get it done for free at your GP practice, in pharmacies or at one of our Know Your Blood Pressure events: stroke.org.uk/kybpevents 2

3 If you suspect a stroke, act FAST. Call 999. Facial weakness Can the person smile? Arm weakness Can the person raise both arms? Speech problems Can the person speak clearly? Time to call 999 If they have any of these signs. We are the UK's leading charity dedicated to conquering stroke. We rely on your support to provide vital services, campaign for better stroke care and to find better treatments. Together we can conquer stroke. 3

4 What is a stroke? A stroke is a brain attack. It happens when the blood supply to part of your brain is cut off. Blood carries essential nutrients and oxygen to your brain so it will work properly. Without blood, your brain cells can be damaged or destroyed and they won t be able to do their job. Because your brain controls everything you do, feel, think and remember, a stroke can affect these abilities. Some strokes are fatal while others can cause permanent or temporary paralysis or communication problems. I would encourage everyone to monitor their blood pressure. I was too late getting mine checked out. It s one year since my stroke, and I still haven t fully regained movement in the right side of my body, so I can t go back to work. Curtis, aged 37 4

5 What is blood pressure? On average, your heart beats around 70 to 80 times a minute. Blood pressure is the force with which your blood presses on your arteries walls as it is pumped around your body. It s measured with two readings when the heart beats (systolic pressure) and when it relaxes (diastolic pressure). Both are measured in millimetres of mercury, written as mmhg. These readings are shown as a fraction. Blood pressure is always higher when the heart beats than when it relaxes. A normal adult blood pressure should be less than around 140/90 mmhg. The optimal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mmhg. If yours is consistently above 140/90 mmhg (or 130/80 mmhg if you re diabetic) then you will be considered to have high blood pressure or hypertension. Diastolic blood pressure Normal Borderline Hypertensive Systolic blood pressure 5

6 What links stroke and high blood pressure? Most strokes happen when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood to the brain. High blood pressure puts a strain on all the blood vessels throughout your body, including the ones leading to the brain. As a result, your heart has to work much harder to keep the blood circulation going. This strain can damage your blood vessels, causing them to become harder and narrower, a condition called atherosclerosis. This makes a blockage more likely to occur, which could cause a stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA, sometimes called a mini stroke). On rare occasions, this extra strain may cause a blood vessel to weaken and burst inside the brain, causing bleeding into surrounding tissues. This is called a haemorraghic stroke. High blood pressure often shows no symptoms. There is no way of knowing that you have high blood pressure apart from having it measured. 6

7 Shirley s story Four days after she turned 56, Shirley, a civil servant from Knaresborough, had a stroke. An ambulance took her straight to hospital, where she spent six weeks receiving treatment and starting to recover. She says: I had to learn how to cope with the loss of movement on my right hand side and partial loss of sight. My speech was very slurred right after the stroke, but luckily it came back quickly. Now retired from work, Shirley takes medication to keep her blood pressure low and checks it regularly to prevent another stroke. I consider myself a work in progress. My right hand, fingers and arm have still not come back to full use so I keep exercising them, but I don t get as tired as I used to and I can walk with a stick. Exercise also helps me to fight high blood pressure and prevent another stroke. 7

8 How can I reduce my risk of stroke? Lifestyle changes can bring blood pressure down to a normal level. These include: stopping smoking eating a healthy diet drinking sensibly taking regular exercise If lifestyle changes do not reduce blood pressure to within normal ranges and it is consistently above 140/90 mmhg, there are prescribed medications available that can reduce it. Your doctor will be able to advise you further about any medication that you may require. Once your blood pressure has been reduced to within the normal range you should make sure you have it measured at least once a year. 8

9 Brian s story In 2013, 50-year-old father of two Brian had an excruciating and persistent pain in his head. Brian went to see his doctor, who checked his blood pressure and found that it was extremely high. Brian was transferred to hospital stroke ward. Thankfully Brian had not had a stroke, and was given tablets to control his blood pressure and his headaches. Brian now checks his blood pressure each month. Brian says: "I would encourage everyone to take a moment to monitor their blood pressure. I was late getting mine checked out. From having the scare of thinking I d had a stroke, I now realise just how important it is to know your blood pressure. 9

10 What next? You ve taken the first step to reduce your risk of stroke by reading this booklet. Now get your blood pressure checked it s easy, quick and painless. Your GP or nurse will do this, and some surgeries even have a self-test machine in reception Pharmacies will check your blood pressure with no need for an appointment Many ASDA stores are also offering free blood pressure checks throughout March The Stroke Association runs hundreds of Know Your Blood Pressure events every year. As well as testing your blood pressure, we offer free, friendly advice on all aspects of stroke. Find your nearest one at stroke.org.uk/kybpevents. If your blood pressure is high, you can find out more about treatment and questions to ask you GP in our free factsheet, High blood pressure and stroke For more information about other risk factors for stroke and ways to manage them, download or order our free leaflet, How to prevent a stroke To help other people reduce their risk of stroke, sign up to host a Know Your Blood Pressure event. We ll send you everything you need to help your friends, family and community take action to reduce their risk of stroke. stroke.org.uk/kybpevents If you suspect a stroke, act. Call

11 We are the Stroke Association We believe that stroke can and should be prevented. It s why we fund research to develop new treatments and ways to prevent stroke. It s why we raise awareness and give people the information they need to reduce their risk of having a stroke. We d rather no one had a stroke at all, but if they do, we re with them every step of the way to make the best recovery they can. We are a charity. We rely on your support to change lives and prevent stroke. Stroke Helpline: Website: stroke.org.uk From a textphone: Together we can conquer stroke Stroke Association, March 2016 Item Code: A04BP14 Stroke Association is a Company Limited by Guarantee, registered in England and Wales (No 61274). Registered office: Stroke Association House, 240 City Road, London EC1V 2PR. Registered as a Charity in England and Wales (No ) and in Scotland (SC037789). Also registered in Northern Ireland (XT33805) Isle of Man (No 945) and Jersey (NPO 369).

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