Damage To Your Brain
Just like your heart, your brain depends on a nourishing blood supply to function properly and survive. But high blood pressure can cause several problems, including:
- Stroke. A stroke occurs when your brain is deprived of oxygen and nutrients, causing brain cells to die. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to stroke by damaging and weakening your brain's blood vessels, causing them to narrow, rupture, crack or leak. This means that some of the blood your brain is dependent on is lost along the way. High blood pressure can also cause an aneurysm. This is a bulge in the vessel wall that can break off or burst, cutting off blood flow to the brain and leading to stroke.
- Transient ischemic attack. Sometimes called a ministroke, a transient ischemic (is-KEM-ik) attack is a brief, temporary obstruction of blood supply to your brain. It's often caused by atherosclerosis or a blood clot — both of which can arise from high blood pressure. A transient ischemic attack is often a warning that you're at risk of a full-blown stroke.
- Dementia. Dementia is a mental disorder that impairs thinking, speaking, reasoning, memory, bladder control, vision and movement. Vascular dementia can result from extensive narrowing and blockage of the arteries that supply blood to the brain. It can also result from strokes caused by an interruption of blood flow to the brain. In either case, high blood pressure may be the culprit. High blood pressure that occurs even as early as middle age can lead to dementia in later years.
- Mild cognitive impairment.Mild cognitive impairment is a transition stage between the cognitive changes of normal aging and the more serious problems caused by Alzheimer's disease. Like dementia, it can result from impaired blood flow to the brain when high blood pressure damages arteries. This condition can affect many areas of cognition, such as language, attention, critical thinking, reading, writing, reaction time and memory.