Could Your Migraine Be Due to High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is one of the most common conditions affecting adults in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 75 million Americans, or 1 in every 3 adults, has high blood pressure. Not only does this put you at risk for heart disease and stroke, but research shows a connection between blood pressure and headaches.

Known as ‘the silent killer,’ high blood pressure is tough to recognize and often carries no symptoms. However, there is one possible symptom of high blood pressure that many don’t consider – a headache. Numerous studies in recent years look at the connection between high blood pressure and migraine.

What does the evidence say? It’s worth looking into.

What Science Says About High Blood Pressure and Migraine

‘Pressure’ is the force in which your blood flows from the heart to the rest of the body. It’s normal for blood pressure to rise and fall throughout the day, but if it remains on the higher end for an extended time, it could cause serious health problems and damage. At one point (2014), high blood pressure was connected to 410,000 deaths in the United States.

Research indicates that very high blood pressure could lead to headaches, but it is more complicated than that. Yes, there is a connection between migraine and heart disease (often caused by high blood pressure), but hypertensive headaches are not the same as migraine. That said, high blood pressure can put abnormal stress on the body, triggering a migraine attack.

What Are the Symptoms of High Blood Pressure Headache?

Generally, a hypertensive headache is caused by potentially life-threatening high blood pressure, which constitutes a hypertensive emergency.

Some of the symptoms of a hypertensive headache include:

●       Headache on both sides of the head

●       Pulsating or throbbing

●       Follows or is made worse by exercise

●       Symptoms dissipate within an hour after the blood pressure has lowered

●       Dizziness

●       Weakness

●       Loss of sight

●       Blurred vision

●       Confusion

●       Chest pain

●       Vomiting or nausea

It’s no secret that migraine headaches are intense and can bring you to your knees. Hypertensive headaches, while different, can be equally debilitating. Understanding the difference between a migraine and a headache brought on by high blood pressure will give you the knowledge to seek the proper treatment – whatever that may be.

Treating Hypertensive Migraines

The key to treating hypertensive headaches is to address the high blood pressure and change certain behaviors that may be damaging to the body and mind.

Head pain can take over your life – it occupies your thoughts, and it frequently demands your immediate, undivided attention. It’s essential to do everything you can to find what triggers the pain and make the lifestyle changes needed to help reduce – and eventually eliminate – migraines.

When it comes to high blood pressure headaches, understanding the symptoms above should help you narrow down triggers by keeping a diary. Talk about your experience daily.  What did you eat?  Where did you go?  Was there unusual stress?  It doesn’t have to be extensive.  A paragraph or two will do.  The hardest and most crucial step is the first one, and a diary is an easy way to get started.

Sources

Axon Optics – Understanding Blood Pressure Migraine and Headache

Medical News Today – Can High Blood Pressure Lead to Headaches?

CDC – High Blood Pressure Fact Sheet

Blood Pressure Readings Explained