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High blood pressure is an acute medical condition and if not checked on time, can be fatal. In high blood pressure, the pressure in the arterial walls increases, making the heart work hard to pump blood through the blood vessels. High blood pressure is also known as hypertension or arterial hypertension. It has two conditions, i.e., systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure. When the heart contracts, the pressure exerted by blood while pumping into the blood vessels is more; this contraction is known as systolic blood pressure, and when the heart expands, the pressure exerted by blood is less and is called diastolic blood pressure. A person having 120/80 mmHg (systolic/diastolic) blood pressure is said to have a normal blood pressure, whereas blood pressure above 140/90 mmHg is termed as high blood pressure.
In hypertension, the symptoms usually go unnoticed and there are no warnings as such before your heart is literally attacked with a ruthless stroke. Hence, this is widely known as the 'silent killer'. Though its symptoms go unnoticed, but the most common symptom is headache. People always associate headaches with high blood pressure. Are the two related to each other? Let's find out.
How Are the Two Related
About 90% of the headaches (tension headache) are caused due to stress, but according to studies and research done centuries ago, it is believed that severe headaches have been a major symptom of high blood pressure. However, it cannot be assured that every other person who gets a headache at some time or the other has high blood pressure; however, the frequent occurrence of headaches is definitely a sign of high blood pressure. Most headaches originate from the blood vessels in the tissues underneath the skull. In these blood vessels, a phenomenon called autoregulation (a process that allows organs to determine their own blood supply) is caused due to increased blood pressure. This physiological process causes constriction of the blood vessels which is a major reason for headaches.
According to old studies, headache is the major symptom of hypertension; on the contrary, the recent researches assert that high blood pressure causes fewer headaches. However this data, besides being the recent one, is observed only in a less percentage of people and still needs time to be relied on.
Headaches Triggered by High Blood Pressure
Morning Headaches
Morning headaches are mostly caused due to lack of sleep, improper sleeping position and stress. Another simple reason can be to do with a snoring partner! Morning headaches clubbed with high blood pressure are common in alcoholics. It is always seen that stress, headaches, depression and high blood pressure go hand in hand. If you are experiencing frequent headaches, then you should set the alarm bells ringing, and get your blood pressure checked.
Cluster Headaches
Cluster headaches are severe headaches which recur over a period of time. They occur due to abnormalities in the facial nerves. They are like migraine, wherein the attack may last for few minutes to few hours. They are caused due to allergies, stress, excessive smoking and drinking. The effects of headache may worsen due to a rise in your blood pressure.
Conditions During Pregnancy
About 8% of the pregnant women experience this hypertension along with headaches. Doctors advise a routine blood pressure checkup after 20 weeks of pregnancy. This is because, after six months of pregnancy a pregnant woman pumps one liter of extra blood every day which is likely to increase blood pressure; headache being one of the symptoms. This high blood pressure can affect the baby's health. And if the headaches are severe and recurring, followed by vomiting and blurred vision, then you must call the doctor.
In Infants and Children
Hypertension can be a cause of severe headaches even in older infants and children, and is associated with fatigue, nosebleeds, facial paralysis and blurred vision. In infants and newborns, hypertension can cause difficulty in breathing, lack of energy, irritability and seizures.
Malignant Hypertension
Malignant hypertension is a severe form of high blood pressure that damages the inner linings of blood vessels causing organ failure. The eyes along with the kidneys and brain are the most susceptible organs. Malignant hypertension may cause swelling of the optic nerve behind the eye, which causes blinding headache. Severe headache is a prime symptom of malignant hypertension.
It has been observed over decades that people with high blood pressure suffer from severe headaches very frequently. But the fact that all morning headaches and cluster headaches are caused due to hypertension is incorrect. Most of the time, the causes of headache may not be serious, it may be due to simple reasons like dehydration or staying hungry for a long time. According to doctors, common headaches may not be due to high blood pressure, as there are many other factors that may be causing it. But the bottom line is, if you are regularly experiencing severe headaches and dizziness along with nausea, you should consult a doctor at the earliest.