May is both National American Stroke and High Blood Pressure Month

Published: May 4, 2020

Mind Your Risks® is a public health campaign sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that educates people with high blood pressure about the importance of controlling blood pressure in midlife (from the ages of 45 to 65) to help reduce the risk of having a stroke and possibly developing dementia later in life.

Stroke and Dementia are more likely to affect people with high blood pressure. Many people with high blood pressure know that they could be at risk for a stroke and heart attack. However, too many, despite what they may know, are still not motivated by the facts to get their high blood pressure under control. Now a new risk of high blood pressure is emerging: the possible connection between uncontrolled blood pressure and dementia. Important new studies link high blood pressure, especially in midlife, to an increased risk of dementia. 

Medical scientists are working hard to learn more about this connection. They are learning more about cellular changes in the brain that can lead to dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. Research that could lead to new treatments or slow down the most serious forms of dementia. 

Vascular dementia, one of the most common forms of dementia, may be preventable. Studies show that it usually occurs due to the cumulative impact of multiple strokes, including the small, silent strokes. High blood pressure appears to be the main culprit. Over time, high blood pressure weakens the arteries which leads to strokes that can cause dementia. 

Ways to improve healthy brain aging includes taking your blood pressure medications as prescribed by your primary care physician as well as following lifestyle changes such as exercise, weight loss and smoking cessation. 

So, keep your blood pressure under control. Mind Your Risks®!

This NIH campaign emphasizes the following steps:

  • Control high blood pressure
  • Quit smoking
  • Lower high cholesterol
  • Eat healthy & keep active
  • Manage your diabetes
  • Take your medications
  • Avoid the use of illicit drugs and heavy consumption of alcohol
  • Stick to the plan
  • Start early 

As a part-time Hospice physician in greater Sacramento, I find many of my patients with a primary diagnosis of Vascular Dementia. I would be extremely thrilled to have less and less patients with this possibly preventable diagnosis. 

Gary Plundo, DO, MPM

Medical Director

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