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Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) and Stroke

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As blood circulates, it exerts pressure on the walls of the arteries. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is characterized by a persistent increase in this pressure, even when a person is at rest. The disorder is one of the most common chronic health problems in the United States, affecting nearly 74 million Americans.   

High blood pressure is also the most important risk factor for stroke—the third leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of disability. If left untreated, this “silent killer,” as high blood pressure is often called, is a primary cause not only of stroke, but also of coronary heart disease, heart failure, kidney disease, and blindness. 

The good news: Hypertension can be easily detected and is usually controllable with lifestyle measures (diet, physical activity, and maintenance of a healthy weight) and medication. In fact, research repeatedly shows that successfully treating high blood pressure can reduce your risk of a stroke by about 50% and your likelihood of a heart attack by about 20%. 

What is blood pressure? Blood pressure is the amount of force that blood exerts on the walls of blood vessels as it travels through the circulatory system. Blood does not travel in a steady flow but is propelled through the blood vessels with the force of every heartbeat. Each time the heart contracts—a period known as systole—blood pressure rises as more blood is forced through the arteries. Every systole is followed by a moment of relaxation, called diastole, when blood pressure drops as the heart refills with blood and rests before its next contraction. 

Because pressure in the arteries rises and falls with each heartbeat, readings include two values—systolic blood pressure on the top and diastolic blood pressure on the bottom. Therefore, if your blood pressure is 140/90 mm Hg, this means you have a systolic pressure of 140 mm Hg and a diastolic pressure of 90 mm Hg.   

If you or someone you care about has high blood pressure, obtaining accurate information is an important part of the treatment plan.

Because of the close relationship between high blood pressure and stroke, both topics are addressed in this area of Health After 50.

  •  You’ll find articles on: how to cut back on salt, hypertension and your memory, benefits of a vegetable-rich diet, treating hypertension as you age, masked hypertension, DASH diet tips, best exercises to lower your blood pressure, recognizing a stroke, and much more.

 For more information on Hypertension and Stroke please visit the BOOKSTORE .


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Scientific American White Papers

2016 Hypertension & Stroke White Paper

High blood pressure, or hypertension, gives few warning signs before it erupts with major complications, such as a stroke. Fortunately, in most cases the condition can be easily detected during a regular check-up and can usually be controlled with a combination of diet, exercise, and medication. In the Hypertension & Stroke White Paper medical experts explain what you can do to manage high blood pressure in order to prevent stroke, and much more important information.

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2016 Heart Attack Prevention White Paper

While heart attack remains the leading cause of death in America, medical specialists have identified a number of steps that can dramatically lower your risk. The Heart Attack Prevention White Paper contains potentially lifesaving strategies for the millions of people with high cholesterol, hypertension (high blood pressure), weight control issues, a sedentary lifestyle, and other known risk factors for heart attack.

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2016 Coronary Heart Disease White Paper

The Coronary Heart Disease White Paper reports on the latest life-saving advances for your heart health, to help you prevent or treat coronary heart disease. Topics include preventing first heart attacks; heart attack recovery and its effects on your overall lifestyle and health; preventing a second heart attack; angina; cardiac arrhythmias; and congestive heart failure.

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