Hypertension is a circulatory disease. Many patients with high blood pressure develop coronary artery disease or heart failure, and many die as a result. But all parts of the body depend on the circulation, and many organs suffer from the impact of untreated hypertension. One of the organs at greatest risk is the brain.
Just like your heart, your brain depends on a nourishing blood supply to work properly and survive. But high blood pressure can cause several problems, including:
Transient ischemic attack (TIA):
Sometimes called a ministroke, a transient ischemic (is-KEE-mik) attack is a brief, temporary disruption 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.
A stroke occurs when part of 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 or leak. High blood pressure can also cause blood clots to form in the arteries leading to your brain, blocking blood flow and potentially causing a stroke.
Dementia is a brain disease resulting in problems with thinking, speaking, reasoning, memory, vision, and movement. There are a number of causes of dementia. One cause, vascular dementia, can result from 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.
Mild cognitive impairment:
Mild cognitive impairment is a transition stage between the changes in understanding and memory that come with aging and the more serious problems caused by Alzheimer's disease. Like dementia, it can result from blocked blood flow to the brain when high blood pressure damages arteries.