The importance of comorbidities in ischemic stroke: Impact of hypertension on the cerebral circulation

J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2018 Dec;38(12):2129-2149. doi: 10.1177/0271678X18800589. Epub 2018 Sep 10.


Comorbidities are a hallmark of stroke that both increase the incidence of stroke and worsen outcome. Hypertension is prevalent in the stroke population and the most important modifiable risk factor for stroke. Hypertensive disorders promote stroke through increased shear stress, endothelial dysfunction, and large artery stiffness that transmits pulsatile flow to the cerebral microcirculation. Hypertension also promotes cerebral small vessel disease through several mechanisms, including hypoperfusion, diminished autoregulatory capacity and localized increase in blood-brain barrier permeability. Preeclampsia, a hypertensive disorder of pregnancy, also increases the risk of stroke 4-5-fold compared to normal pregnancy that predisposes women to early-onset cognitive impairment. In this review, we highlight how comorbidities and concomitant disorders are not only risk factors for ischemic stroke, but alter the response to acute ischemia. We focus on hypertension as a comorbidity and its effects on the cerebral circulation that alters the pathophysiology of ischemic stroke and should be considered in guiding future therapeutic strategies.

Keywords: Hypertension; cerebral small vessel disease; collateral circulation; ischemic stroke; preeclampsia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / epidemiology*
  • Hypertension / physiopathology*
  • Stroke / epidemiology*
  • Stroke / physiopathology*