Low blood pressure may increase stroke risk

Credit: Unsplash+

Blood pressure is a critical health metric, often discussed in the context of being too high. Yet, what about when it’s too low? Commonly, low blood pressure (hypotension) is seen as less of a concern, and in many cases, it’s a sign of good health.

However, the question arises: can low blood pressure cause a stroke? This review explores the relationship between low blood pressure, its potential risks, and its connection to stroke, breaking down complex research into understandable insights.

Low blood pressure is generally defined as a reading lower than 90/60 mm Hg. For many, it causes no problems and is often associated with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.

However, in some circumstances, low blood pressure can lead to inadequate blood flow to organs, including the brain, which raises the question of its potential link to stroke.

Strokes occur when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted, leading to brain damage. There are two main types: ischemic, caused by a blockage (accounting for about 85% of cases), and hemorrhagic, caused by bleeding in or around the brain.

The relationship between blood pressure and stroke is primarily discussed in terms of high blood pressure, a well-known risk factor for stroke, particularly ischemic stroke. But the impact of low blood pressure is less straightforward and warrants a closer look.

Research into low blood pressure and its connection to stroke is somewhat mixed, with some studies suggesting potential risks associated with very low blood pressure.

A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that very low diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number in a blood pressure reading) could increase the risk of a subtype of stroke known as subcortical stroke.

This type of stroke affects the small blood vessels deep within the brain and is thought to be related to reduced blood flow.

However, it’s essential to distinguish between acute drops in blood pressure and chronically low blood pressure.

Acute drops can lead to a sudden decrease in blood flow to the brain, potentially resulting in a stroke or a stroke-like syndrome known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA).

In contrast, chronic low blood pressure might not pose the same level of risk, provided it doesn’t cause symptoms indicating insufficient blood flow to the brain.

The circumstances under which low blood pressure might contribute to stroke risk include severe dehydration, rapid blood loss, or certain medical conditions and medications that excessively lower blood pressure.

In these cases, the reduced blood pressure can lead to decreased oxygen and nutrient delivery to the brain, possibly triggering a stroke.

Moreover, for individuals with existing cardiovascular diseases, very low blood pressure might exacerbate the issue of inadequate blood supply to the brain and other vital organs, increasing the risk of stroke among other complications.

In conclusion, while high blood pressure is a well-known and significant risk factor for stroke, the relationship between low blood pressure and stroke is more nuanced.

Very low blood pressure, especially when symptomatic or associated with acute medical conditions, may increase the risk of certain types of stroke by reducing blood flow to the brain.

However, for most people, maintaining a healthy, lower blood pressure range is beneficial and reduces the risk of stroke.

It’s crucial for individuals with chronically low or suddenly dropping blood pressure to seek medical advice, ensuring that their blood pressure supports optimal health and minimizes the risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.

If you care about blood pressure, please read studies about how diets could help lower high blood pressure, and 3 grams of omega-3s a day keep high blood pressure at bay.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies that beetroot juice could help reduce blood pressure, and results showing cinnamon could help lower high blood pressure.

Copyright © 2024 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.