Can High Blood Pressure Cause Headaches?

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  • If you’ve been having frequent, recurring headaches and you’re not sure about their exact cause, then it’s best to schedule an appointment with your doctor to determine if it’s related to your blood pressure levels
  • If you have been previously diagnosed with high blood pressure and you suddenly feel an increased pressure in your skull, along with the other symptoms of hypertensive crisis mentioned above, seek medical assistance as soon as you can

The correlation between high blood pressure and headaches has been studied for years, yet it still remains a controversial and debated topic today. While there are studies that support the connection between these two conditions,1 most medical professionals agree that hypertension is an asymptomatic disease, which means that headaches are more likely to manifest as a result of something other than elevated blood pressure, such as stress, fatigue, estrogen levels or even caffeine withdrawal.2

In fact, a study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry even associates high systolic and high diastolic pressure with a reduced risk for non-migrainous headache.3 Furthermore, a study published in the Iranian Journal of Neurology shows that headaches are not present in cases of mild to moderate hypertension, which backs the theory that headaches are only present in cases of hypertensive crisis.4

The Link Between Hypertensive Crisis and Headaches

Even though hypertension usually doesn’t have any warning signs, an extremely high blood pressure level that falls within the range of hypertensive crisis may still cause symptoms of stroke or potential organ damage.

Severe headache is also one of these symptoms — and, according to Harvard Health, sometimes may be the only warning symptom that your blood pressure has reached critically dangerously high levels5,6 The prevalence of headache as a symptom is around 20 percent in people with hypertensive urgency,7 a type of hypertensive crisis that’s characterized by potential end-organ damage.8

Hypertension-related headache is believed to be caused by increased pressure inside the cranium due to the sudden rise of blood pressure to critical levels. Usually this type of emergency hypertension-triggered headache is due to nonadherence to antihypertensive therapy or the presence of a previously unknown secondary hypertension.9

This type of headache is bilateral and has a pulsating quality.10 You may also experience some of these other symptoms together with headache:11,12

Blurred vision

Chest pain

Nausea or vomiting

Shortness of breath

Weakness

Anxiety

How Do You Relieve Hypertension-Related Headaches?

Over-the-counter painkillers may not be effective for relieving headaches caused by hypertensive crisis,13 not to mention that they may also put you at risk of serious side effects. So instead of resorting to prescription drugs, you should address your high blood pressure instead.

You may help lower your risk of developing these headaches by monitoring your blood pressure and keeping it within the normal range. You can do this naturally by following a healthy nutrition plan, adopting an active lifestyle, managing your stress, and maintaining a healthy weight.

If you’re really looking for ways to relieve your pounding headache, then you should try natural alternatives instead. Essential oils, particularly lavender14 and peppermint,15 may help soothe your symptoms. Eating foods with anti-inflammatory properties may also help improve blood circulation. Some good examples include ginger,16 butterbur,17 coriander18 and flaxseeds.19

When Should You See a Doctor Regarding Your Headaches?

If you’ve been having frequent, recurring headaches and you’re not sure about their exact cause, then it’s best to schedule an appointment with your doctor to determine if it’s related to your blood pressure levels.

If you have been previously diagnosed with high blood pressure and you suddenly feel an increased pressure in your skull, along with the other symptoms of hypertensive crisis mentioned above, seek medical assistance as soon as you can. Your headache may be a sign of hypertensive crisis, which could lead to organ damage if not addressed right away.20

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High Blood Pressure Causes

High Blood Pressure Medications

High Blood Pressure Treatment

How to Control High Blood Pressure

High Blood Pressure Remedies

High Blood Pressure Side Effects

High Blood Pressure Headache

High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

High Blood Pressure Prevention

High Blood Pressure Diet

Essential Oils for High Blood Pressure

Herbs for High Blood Pressure

Supplements for High Blood Pressure

High Blood Pressure FAQ

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