Common cause of headaches in high blood pressure

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Many people believe that high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, directly causes headaches. However, understanding the relationship between the two is a bit more complex.

High blood pressure is often called the “silent killer” because it typically doesn’t cause noticeable symptoms, including headaches, until it reaches a severe or life-threatening stage.

In this review, we will explore what research says about the causes of headaches in those suffering from high blood pressure and clarify some common misconceptions.

First, it’s important to understand what high blood pressure is. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps.

When this pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on your arteries and your heart, which can lead to health issues over time. The condition is diagnosed when blood pressure readings consistently exceed 140/90 mmHg.

Historically, the belief that high blood pressure causes headaches stems from observations of patients who experienced both.

However, extensive research, including a large review published in the journal Hypertension, has shown that routine hypertension does not cause headaches unless blood pressure reaches a critical level, known as a hypertensive crisis.

During a hypertensive crisis, where blood pressure soars above 180/120 mmHg, headaches may occur and are considered a medical emergency.

These headaches are typically severe and come with other symptoms like changes in vision, difficulty speaking, nosebleeds, or severe anxiety.

So, why do some people with high blood pressure experience headaches? The answer often lies in other underlying factors or conditions that coincide with hypertension. For instance, stress is a common contributor to both high blood pressure and headaches.

Stress can cause temporary spikes in blood pressure as well as tension headaches. Similarly, certain medications used to treat high blood pressure can have side effects, including headaches.

Another factor is lifestyle. Poor sleep, dehydration, and excessive alcohol use are known triggers for headaches and can also influence blood pressure. People with high blood pressure might be more sensitive to these triggers.

Furthermore, obesity and lack of physical activity can contribute to both high blood pressure and the conditions that cause headaches.

Interestingly, a study in the Journal of Headache and Pain suggested a potential mechanism linking chronic high blood pressure with changes in the arteries and blood flow in the brain, which could make individuals more susceptible to headaches.

However, more research is needed to fully understand this connection.

Addressing headaches in people with high blood pressure involves treating both the headache and the hypertension.

Managing blood pressure through medications, coupled with lifestyle changes like improving diet, increasing physical activity, reducing salt intake, and managing stress, can help reduce both blood pressure and the frequency of headaches.

In summary, while high blood pressure by itself typically does not cause headaches, the two can be connected through various factors, including severe increases in blood pressure, side effects of medications, and other health-related issues.

Understanding these links helps in managing both conditions more effectively. If you have high blood pressure and frequent headaches, it’s important to discuss these symptoms with your healthcare provider to ensure comprehensive care and to rule out other potential causes.

If you care about high blood pressure, please read studies that early time-restricted eating could help improve blood pressure, and natural coconut sugar could help reduce blood pressure and artery stiffness.

For more information about blood pressure, please see recent studies about How to eat your way to healthy blood pressure and results showing that Modified traditional Chinese cuisine can lower blood pressure.

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