How to get rid of hypertension headache

How to get rid of hypertension headache

Hypertension, sometimes referred to as excessive blood pressure, can result in a number of health issues. Most people with hypertension are not aware of the condition since it may not have any warning signs or symptoms. Is there a correlation between high blood pressure and headaches?

For further understanding of the subject, we will discuss the following sections:

  • What is the definition of hypertension?
  • Is it possible for hypertension to produce headaches?
  • How to get rid of headaches caused by hypertension
  • Hypertension causes
  • Hypertension risk factors
  • Hypertension treatment

What is Hypertension?

Hypertension is a common condition in which blood pressure (BP) is too high—the force of the blood against the artery walls is persistently high enough to cause health problems. Blood pressure is commonly expressed as the ratio of systolic BP (that is, the pressure blood exerts on the artery walls when the heart contracts) and diastolic BP (the pressure when the heart relaxes).

In narrow blood vessels, also known as arteries, blood flow is more challenging. The greater the resistance in your arteries, the higher the resistance and hence the higher your blood pressure. Long-term, rising pressure can cause health issues like heart disease, stroke, and even death (1, 2)

Hypertension is a common condition, particularly in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly half of adults in the United States have hypertension (3).

In 2019, 22% of people in the European Union aged 15 years and above reported having high blood pressure (4). In Canada, hypertension is present in 21% of the population (5).

The International Society of Hypertension, Global Hypertension Guidelines, 2020 recommends that hypertension be diagnosed when your systolic BP in the office or clinic is ≥140 mmHg and/or your diastolic BP is ≥ 90 mmHg following repeated measurements (6).

Usually, there are no obvious symptoms if you have hypertension, so checking your blood pressure on a regular basis could help you and your doctor see any changes.

Even if you don’t have any symptoms, high blood pressure can injure your blood vessels and organs, including the brain, heart, eyes, and kidneys. Certain physical traits and lifestyle choices can put you at a greater risk for hypertension.

Can hypertension cause headaches?

Hypertension may not cause any symptoms. However, when symptoms do occur as a result of severe or uncontrolled hypertension, they may include headaches (early mornings), nosebleeds, vision changes, tinnitus(buzzing in the ears), fatigue, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, irregular heartbeats, and muscle tremors.

Headaches do not generally cause stage I (140 to 159/90 to 99 mmHg) or stage II (160 to 179/100 to 109 mmHg) headaches. When blood pressure reaches 180/110 mmHg or higher, headaches usually occur, and they may be a result of underlying health conditions such as hypertensive crisis, pre-eclampsia, and eclampsia, or an acute pressure response to the use of drugs such as cocaine, amphetamines, and alcohol.

Withdrawal of drugs such as beta-blockers(e.g. carvedilol), clonidine, or alcohol can also result in acute pressure response leading to headaches (7, 8).

If you have been diagnosed with hypertension and have developed headaches, see your doctor, because it is usually a sign of an underlying condition.

What causes hypertension?

Hypertension with no known cause (primary: formerly, essential hypertension) is the most common. Aging, lifestyle, and environmental factors contribute to primary hypertension.

Hypertension with an identified cause (secondary hypertension) is due to medications, high cholesterol, overweight/obesity, chronic kidney disease, sleep apnea, thyroid or adrenal gland problems, or diabetes (9)

Risk factors of hypertension

Certain factors can increase your risk of developing hypertension. These include:

  • An unhealthy diet (excessive salt (sodium) intake, high amounts of saturated and trans fats in diets, low consumption of fruit and vegetables)
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Smoking and tobacco use
  • Stress
  • Sedentary lifestyle or physical inactivity
  • In the United States, African-Americans are more likely than other races to have a high blood pressure than other races*
  • Family history of hypertension*
  • Age (over 65 years)*
  • Gender (Men are more likely to develop hypertension than women up to age 65)*

*Non-modifiable risk factors

Preventing or managing hypertension

Healthy lifestyle changes often help to prevent and lower high blood pressure, and these can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke. The following are examples of healthy living habits:

Eating healthy diets

A heart-healthy diet can help people avoid high blood pressure. Be sure to reduce salt intake, eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and limit foods saturated with high fats.

Talk with your doctor or dietician/nutritionist about consuming foods with low salt(sodium) and saturated fat and those rich in fiber, protein, and potassium.

The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan helps to promote heart-healthy eating habits to lower high blood pressure or maintain optimum blood pressure.

Limiting alcohol intake

Blood pressure can be lowered by limiting alcohol consumption. The American Heart Association recommends moderation in alcohol intake – men have no more than two alcoholic drinks daily and women have no more than one drink daily (one drink is about 12 oz of beer, 4- 5 oz of wine, 1.5 oz distilled spirits) (10, 11)

Stress management

High blood pressure may be caused by too much stress. Stress can arouse behaviors that can contribute to increased blood pressure, such as an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and excessive use of alcohol or tobacco.

Avoiding or learning to manage stress helps to control your blood pressure and revitalize your general well-being. Meditation, warm baths, yoga, and long walks are some relaxing activities that might help relieve stress (12)

Avoid smoking

Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke have also been linked to an increase in blood pressure and put you at risk of stroke and heart attack. Nicotine, one of the main chemicals in cigarettes, causes your heart to beat faster and increases your blood pressure.

It is important to quit smoking if you do, or do not start if you do not smoke. Quitting has benefits in the short and long term for decreasing your cardiovascular risk (13).

Talk to your health professional for suggestions on ways to help you quit smoking.

Keeping a healthy weight

Excess weight gain or obesity is a major cause of hypertension. Weight loss reduces the strain on your heart and usually lowers blood pressure.

A well-balanced diet with calorie intake that is appropriate for the individual’s size, gender, and degree of activity will help keep a healthy weight and manage blood pressure (14).

Physical activity on a regular basis

According to current standards, people with or without hypertension should exercise for at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of high-intensity aerobic exercise.

Most individuals will benefit from strength training at least twice a week in addition to 150 minutes of exercise.

Every week, people should exercise for at least 5 days. Walking, jogging, riding, and swimming are examples of acceptable activities (15, 16).

Medication

In addition to making healthy lifestyle choices, some people require blood pressure medicines (antihypertensives) to help keep their blood pressure at optimum levels. You may need to take more than one antihypertensive to control your blood pressure. Antihypertensives work in different ways, some of these include:

  • relaxing the muscle tone of blood vessels
  • reducing the force with which the heart beats
  • causing your body to get rid of excess salt and water, decreasing the amount to healthy body requirements
  • blocking activities of nerves that can constrict your blood vessels

There are different classes of blood pressure medications. These include:

  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • Angiotensin receptor blockers
  • Diuretics, including thiazides, chlorthalidone, and indapamide
  • Beta-blockers and alpha-blockers
  • Calcium-channel blockers
  • Vasodilators
  • Peripheral adrenergic blockers
  • Central agonists

Consult with your healthcare team about the most suitable treatment type for you. It is important to take your antihypertensives as instructed by your doctor or pharmacist. There are a few mild side effects, such as headaches, swelling in the legs or feet, dizziness, or gut problems.

Some over-the-counter medications may interact with blood pressure medicines, decreasing their efficacy. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about any other medicine you are taking, and report any health problems associated with the use of blood pressure medicines (17, 18)

The takeaway from this article

People with hypertension should lower their risks of problems such as headaches from high blood pressure by taking preventive steps and treating underlying medical conditions.

Measure your blood pressure on a regular basis, make healthy lifestyle changes, and talk with your healthcare team when you experience headaches.

WRITTEN AND EDITED RESPECTIVELY BY:

Michael Sarfo
Content Creator at Wapomu

Michael Sarfo is a graduate of the University of Ghana, Legon. He is a content creator for enochkabange.com and a writer for Wapomu

Dr. Solomon Kwesi Otchere (Pharmacist)
Pharmacist

Dr. Solomon Kwesi Otchere is a Pharmacist by profession in Ghana. He is passionate about informed healthy lifestyle and diet options necessary for preventing many disease conditions. He also empowers patients and clients to make savvy choices on medications needful to promote good health.

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