Blood pressure and headaches

For many years headaches were thought to be triggered by elevated blood pressure.  Evidence had suggested that only very sudden increase in blood pressure triggered a headache in some patients, but the myth of high blood pressure headaches has persisted.  Norwegian researchers published a very surprising finding in the April issue of journal Neurology.   They looked at the data on 120,000 people and found that increasing systolic blood pressure was associated with a decrease in migraine and non-migraine headaches.  Even more striking was the inverse correlation with the pulse pressure (difference between systolic and diastolic pressure, for example blood pressure of 110/80 means that the pulse pressure is 30).  Patients with higher pulse pressure had fewer migraine and other headaches.  It can be speculated that hardening of arteries that occurs with elevated blood pressure makes them less likely to constrict and dilate, which is part of a migraine process.

  1. Dr. Mauskop says: 10/12/200910:18 am

    I would ask you doctor about nebivolol, which is also a beta blocker, but has fewer side effects, as well as ACE receptor blockers.

  2. BW says: 10/12/20099:47 am

    I have recently been prescribed beta blockers. They are triggering migraines. We have tried 9 different kinds so far including alpha, beta and calcium blockers. They all trigger migraines that last for many days. Any suggestions? Just recently had stents and angioplasty, have been treated for hypertension for the last two years. My BP is much better after surgery.

  3. Dr. Mauskop says: 04/13/200911:29 pm

    Even though higher blood pressure may be associated with fewer migraines, paradoxically medications that are used to treat high blood pressure are clearly very effective in preventing migraines. Even if you have a perfectly normal blood pressure medications such as beta blockers (atenolol, propranolol, timolol and others), ACE receptor blockers (Atacand, Benicar), and to a lesser extent calcium channel blockers (verapamil) can be effective in preventing migraine attacks.

  4. Glenn says: 04/13/20096:40 pm

    I have suffered from migraines for in excess of 15 years. Over the past few years, I have them all day every day. I am a 54-year old, male. I have just found this correlation between blood-pressure and migraine headaches. I have tried a multitude of medications, including Botox, plus numerous neurologists, all whom have not been able to help. Is there more information available to find out more about this study to discuss with my doctor. I do not have high blood-pressure and from regular monitoring seem to fall within all normal rangers. Any information is greatly appreciated. Please email me direct. Thank you…

  5. Dr. Mauskop says: 05/21/200811:58 am

    Yes, age may have something to do with it, but in this study improvement was correlated to blood pressure, without reference to age. Aging is thought to improve migraines through the reduction in the number of serotonin receptors in the brain and in many women additional improvement occurs after menopause because estrogen levels stop fluctuationing.

  6. Christy says: 05/21/20088:08 am

    So this could possibly have something to do with migraines decreasing with age?

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