Does high blood pressure cause strokes?

The association between high blood pressure and strokes is very strong. This is one of the reasons why lifestyle changes and medications that reduce blood pressure are so important. Depending on how high your blood pressure is, reducing it may be the single best way to reduce your risk of stroke.
Nassir A. Azimi, MD
Interventional Cardiology

High blood pressure is indeed dangerous. It can lead to cerebrovascular disease and strokes.

Long-term hypertension can increase risk of atrial fibrillation, which can result in stroke as a complication. It increases risk of congestive heart failure, which is associated with higher risk of stroke. When blood pressure is suddenly above 200/110, the risk of bleeds in the brain is increased and therefore a hemorrhagic stroke can occur.  


Sameer A. Sayeed, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
High blood pressure can cause strokes in several ways. It can cause rupture of a small blood vessel in the brain leading to bleeding in the brain and subsequent stroke. High blood pressure can also cause damage and disease to the blood vessels supplying the brain, the carotid arteries in the neck, and as a result, plaques and blockages develop in the carotid arteries. Pieces of these plaques and blockages can break off and travel to the small vessels of the brain and block them leading to a stroke. High blood pressure can also cause strokes in more indirect ways. By changing the normal geometry of the heart, high blood pressure can cause scarring of the heart's electrical system which can lead to atrial fibrillation which is an abnormal heart rhythm that can cause blood clots to develop in the heart that can travel to the brain and cause a stroke. If high blood pressure causes coronary artery disease and a heart attack or heart failure, it can result in poor heart muscle pump function which can again lead to the development of blood clots in the heart that can travel to the brain and cause a stroke.
Intermountain Healthcare
In many cases, yes. High blood pressure increases the physical stress / strain on the blood vessels. This causes them to break down which leads to clots within them and weakens the vessel walls - both causes of strokes. It is advised that anyone with high blood pressure work to keep it under control to lessen their risk of stroke (and also heart disease). See your doctor for help with this and stroke will be less of a worry for you! 

High blood pressure is the most important and widespread treatable cause of strokes, both ischemic (blood-clot related) and hemorrhagic (bleeding-related). High blood pressure promotes atherosclerosis, contributes to weakening of the vessel wall and aneurysms, and can cause acute rupture of blood vessels. There is a great deal of evidence showing that reducing blood pressure with medications reduces the risk of stroke. However, since high blood pressure itself does not cause symptoms, many people do not know they have it, or whether it is under control, and in fact relatively few people with high blood pressure are under good control. Regular check-ups with your doctor and checking your blood pressure with home monitors are ways to stay in good control. Also the following changes could help: weight loss, reducing salt intake, regular physical activity, and limited alcohol use.

Johns Hopkins Medicine

High blood pressure is the main cause of strokes, being responsible for approximately two-thirds of all cases. It is also responsible for about half of all heart attacks. That’s why it’s so important to reduce or control your blood pressure through weight loss, a reduced-sodium intake, a healthy diet (e.g DASH Diet), increased physical activity and if needed, medication.

Discovery Health

High blood pressure is the main risk factor for both kinds of stroke. A blood pressure that is consistently above 140/90 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) puts a person at risk for having a stroke. This risk factor can be controlled by medication. Seventy percent of all occurrences of stroke involve high blood pressure.

Continue Learning about Stroke Risk Factors

Stroke Risk Factors

Stroke Risk Factors

Your risk level for stroke can vary based on your genes and lifestyle; risk factors can also differ between men and women. While you can't control your age, family history, race and gender, it's important to know your stroke risk. ...

Men are at a higher risk for stroke, but women account for more deaths from it. Common risk factors for men and women that can be controlled or treated include high blood pressure, diabetes, cigarette smoking, diet, physical activity and heart disease. Less common risk factors affecting women include migraines, taking the pill, pregnancy and childbirth complications and use of hormone replacement therapy. Learn more about stroke risk factors with expert advice from Sharecare.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.