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Last Updated: Jun 06, 2023

High Blood Pressure And Headache - Is There A Relationship?

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Dr. Vivek Baliga BCardiologist • 23 Years Exp.MBBS, MRCP (UK), PG Diploma In Lipid Management, MBA (Healthcare)
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Almost everyone these days is familiar with headaches. The throbbing pain that invades your headspace when you are in the middle of your meeting or work – where you need to focus. It is unforgiving and a big nuisance.

Mostly common conditions like fatigue, lack of sleep, stress, sinus and migraine cause pain in the head. But recent studies show that high blood pressure, or what is commonly known as hypertension, may also lead to severe headaches. Most of the time high blood pressure do not exhibit any symptoms and hence is referred to as ‘the silent killer’. More often than not people do not even realize how a mild headache can be a result of hypertension.

The Link between Hypertension and Headaches
Hypertension or high blood pressure usually occurs when the force of the blood flow in the arteries increase. A headache resulting from high blood pressure usually affects both sides of the head, particularly the temple regions. One major and common cause of high blood pressure is stress. Although people may not be able to find a relationship between the two, one may experience mild but steady pain throughout the head particularly in the forehead or at the back of the head.

In high blood pressure, a palpitating sensation in the temple region often accompanies the sensation of pain in the head. Pain in the temple region is usually accompanied by mild headaches for which you should seek medical attention. Hypertensive emergency is normally considered when the blood pressure reaches above 180/110. Besides headaches, high blood pressure can also take a serious toll on your health leading to stroke or heart attack, if not treated on time.

There are three types of hypertension conditions that are followed by mild to severe headaches:

  1. Malignant Hypertension- Sudden or rapid increase in blood pressure causes malignant hypertension, which requires medical attention. This is more common among young adults and women with pregnancy-induced high blood pressure.
  2. Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension- This condition is characterized by increased blood pressure around the brain and is commonly diagnosed with symptoms like vision problems, shoulder pain, thumping noise in the ears, nausea, and severe headaches almost every day.
  3. Hypertensive Encephalopathy- An extreme version of elevated blood pressure, can cause swelling in the brain, severe headaches that may worsen, nausea, dizziness, seizures and even coma.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure can be deadly, and is more common among smokers and older people. The condition can be controlled by adopting certain dietary measures- diet rich in vegetables and fruits, but low in fat, salt, sugary and sweetened beverages, and red meat. However, with proper medications and a balanced diet, one may be able to keep their blood pressure in check. Once the blood pressure normalizes, the headache also disappears in no time.

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