Stroke occurs when the blood supply to a part of the brain is cut off. This is considered a medical emergency and urgent treatment is essential.
A stroke can cause swallowing difficulties, pain and sensory problems, communication problems, and tiredness and fatigue. In some cases it can even be fatal.
Health experts recommend the best ways of preventing one happening is to eat a healthy diet, take regular exercise, drink alcohol in moderation, and not to smoke.
But another effective way to reduce the risk of a stroke happening is to know your blood pressure numbers. But unfortunately new research has revealed nearly two third of the population is ignoring this simple step.
Knowing your blood pressure numbers can not only help prevent stroke, but also heart attack and heart failure, according to Blood Pressure UK.
In its latest national survey, the charity found 38.6 per cent of people are more concerned abut other ailments (and the subsequent effects on their health) than knowing their blood pressure numbers – putting themselves at an increase risk of debilitating stroke and/or heart attack.
A further 26.7 per cent of respondents consider going out with friends and socialising more of a priority than having their blood pressure taken.
A staggering 63.7 per cent of people do not know their blood pressure numbers – with 16.2 per cent thinking a healthy blood pressure reading is 130/80mmHg which implies pre-high blood pressure, compared to an ideal blood pressure reading of 120/80mmHg.
Of the 33.7 per cent of people who own a blood pressure monitor, 41.7 per cent still go to their GP more than once a year to be tested – with 26.2% believing they will receive a more accurate reading.
And of the 66.3 per cent of people who do not own a blood pressure monitor, well over a quarter (27.8 per cent) say they don’t feel the need to test their blood pressure at all. 16.6 per cent claim they only trust their GP’s to test them.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to stroke by damaging and weakening your brain’s blood vessels, causing them to narrow, rupture or leak.
It can also cause blood clots to form in the arteries leading to your brain, blocking blood flow and potentially causing a stroke.
Blood Pressure UK, as part of its Know Your Numbers! campaign, is now calling for all households to acquire a validated blood pressure monitor, with government subsidies for the low incomes and those most at risk.
So what is a normal blood pressure reading?
NHS Choices advises that blood pressure is recorded with two numbers. The systolic pressure (the higher number) is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body.
The diastolic pressure (the lower number) is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels. Both measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg).
Ideal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg.
Hypertension is considered to be 150/90mmHg or higher, and low blood pressure is considered to be 90/60mmHg or lower.
The health body adds: “A blood pressure reading between 120/80mmHg and 140/90mmHg could mean you’re at risk of developing high blood pressure if you don’t take steps to keep your blood pressure under control.”
Stroke symptoms can vary from person to person but the main signs can be remembered using the acronym F.A.S.T. Occasionally a stroke can cause different symptoms, some of which may be mistaken for other, less serious health conditions.