Know your numbers for stroke prevention

By June Shannon Stroke News   |   17th May 2018

Every year 10 million people die because of high blood pressure, May Measurement Month wants to change this.

Thursday, 17th May 2018

The Irish Heart Foundation is proud to support May Measurement Month (MMM) 2018; a global initiative led by two organisations representing the world’s leading cardiologists and researchers specialising in hypertension — the International Society of Hypertension and the World Hypertension League. MMM aims to raise awareness of high blood pressure.

High blood pressure or hypertension is the leading contributing risk factor for global death causing strokes, heart attacks and other cardiovascular complications.

10 million lives are lost each year needlessly due to hypertension and only half of people with high blood pressure, know that they have the condition.  These deaths are preventable and that’s the real tragedy.

It is important to “know your numbers” when it comes to blood pressure management, stroke survivors attending a special event in Dublin were told.

Addressing the Irish Heart Foundation’s 6th annual Stroke Survivors’ Day which took place in Croke Park (Tuesday 24th April), Dr Paul Cotter from St Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny told attendees that they should know what their blood pressure measurement was and be aware of it.

He explained that blood pressure was the measure of how strongly blood pressed against the walls of the arteries or blood vessels as it was pumped around the body and a normal blood pressure reading was 120/80. However, Dr Cotter advised that stroke survivors should aim for a blood pressure reading of less than 140/90.

Stroke survivors should aim for a blood pressure reading of less than 140/90

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Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg) and Dr Cotter explained that for every 10 mmHg that high blood pressure was reduced, stroke risk would also be reduced by 20 per cent.

According to Dr Cotter, people tended to be more aware of their cholesterol levels than their blood pressure readings and he said that with the very effective treatments currently available, there was no reason why people should have high blood pressure.

“About a quarter of the population has high blood pressure ….there is a huge amount of blood pressure out there that we can treat and if we can improve that we would be able to prevent stroke and indeed heart attack and other vascular problems,” Dr Cotter said.

Dr Cotter addressed the well-attended meeting on secondary prevention of stroke. Coupled with not having high blood pressure, stroke survivors were advised not have high cholesterol, not to smoke, be a healthy weight, have a healthy lifestyle and take their medication regularly. He also advised attendees to be aware if they had a heart condition called atrial fibrillation; a condition where the heart is not beating properly, as this was one of the most common causes of stroke and could be easily diagnosed and treated.

“About a quarter of the population has high blood pressure."

Dr Paul Cotter, St Luke's Hospital Kilkenny

“If everyone did these we would be able to prevent a lot of strokes and a lot of second strokes,” he said.

He also advised that depression was common post stroke and left untreated it can affect recovery and people’s ability to make lifestyle choices. Therefore, he said that antidepressants were commonly prescribed to people who have had a stroke and were important in aiding recovery.

Keep an eye on our Mobile Health Unit schedule and avail of your FREE blood pressure test. All it takes is 10 minutes and it could save your life.

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