What is Hypertension Headache?
Headache is a commonly described symptom of hypertension, or high blood pressure, but the link between the two has not been accurately established. GP guidelines still encourage a headache history to be used as an assessment tool for hypertension, even though it has only been confirmed that headaches are commonly present in patients who reach ‘hypertensive crisis’ (Assarzadegan, Asadollahi, Hesami, Aryani, Mansouri, & Beladi moghadam, 2013). Blood pressure readings of 140-160/90-99 mmHg indicate a diagnosis of ‘mild hypertension’ and there has been a reported link to headache symptoms in this population (Hannson, Smith, & Reeves, 2000). 10% of the Brisbane population have hypertension, with more prevalence in people aged over 75 (Statistics, 2018).
What are the symptoms of Hypertension Headache?
Headaches associated with Hypertension are often describes as; ‘pulsating and throbbing’ and will often occur in the morning. However, it has been reported that hypertension can cause classic symptoms of Tension-Type Headache and Migraine (Assarzadegan, Asadollahi, Hesami, Aryani, Mansouri, & Beladi moghadam, 2013).
|Symptoms of Hypertension||Potential Symptoms of Hypertension headache|
|Headaches||Pulsating, throbbing early morning headache|
|Shortness of breath||Unilateral or Bilateral Headache|
|Nosebleeds||Nausea and or Vomiting|
|Flushing of the skin||Visual disturbances|
What Causes Hypertension Headache?
The initial thought that hypertension contributes to the distension of blood vessels, causing headache symptoms has yet to be proven in any research. The most current research suggests that sudden rises in blood pressure and severe blood pressure readings (>180/110 mmHg) are linked to hypertensive headache. In the population of pheochromocytoma patients, 80 % have been linked to episodic headaches (Assarzadegan, Asadollahi, Hesami, Aryani, Mansouri, & Beladi moghadam, 2013).
The patients that we see at Brisbane Headache & Migraine Clinic often don’t present with any of these signs, however they still present with hypertension headache symptoms. In these cases, we assess for dysfunction in the upper cervical spine and sensitivities in the brainstem, to determine whether they may be the true cause. Current research suggests that brainstem hyper-sensitivity in the brainstem, may detect elevations in blood pressure and react abnormally, triggering headache or migraine symptoms.
Dizziness and Hypertension Headache
Dizziness is a commonly reported symptom, particularly in the elderly population. Recent studies have found that there is a significant correlation between those who experience systemic hypertension and those who describe the symptoms of dizziness or vertigo. As is the case with hypertensive headaches, the link between dizziness and hypertension is unclear at this stage (Rosário Lopes, Damasceno Moreira, Salmaso Trelha, & Lozza de Moraes Marchiori, 2013).
I’ve Tried it all, is there anything that can fix my Hypertension Headache?
At Brisbane Headache & Migraine Clinic, many of our patients have exhausted all of their treatment options, trying to alleviate their hypertensive headaches. Many have altered their blood pressure medications and made changes to their diets with limited success. Some have trialled chiropractor, physiotherapists, massage therapists and osteopaths with no long-term benefit. We aim to assess the upper cervical spine and your brainstem to determine whether they are the true cause of your symptoms.
Once we have established whether this is the case, then we can start treatment immediately, with expected results in the first 6 sessions, as we see with 85-90% of our patients. Most importantly, our treatment is safe, gentle, medication-free and non-invasive.
Assarzadegan, F., Asadollahi, M., Hesami, O., Aryani, O., Mansouri, B., & Beladi moghadam, N. (2013). Secondary headaches attributed to arterial hypertension. Iranian Jornal of Neurology , 12 (3), 106-110.
Hannson, L., Smith, D., & Reeves, R. (2000). Headache in Mild-to-Moderate Hypertension and Its Reduction by Irbesartan Therapy. Archives of Internal medicine , 160 (11), 1654-1658.
Rosário Lopes, A., Damasceno Moreira, M., Salmaso Trelha, C., & Lozza de Moraes Marchiori, L. (2013). Association between complaints of dizziness and hypertension in non-institutionalized elders. International Archives of Otorhynolarygology , 17 (2), 157-162.
Statistics, A. B. (2018). National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18 . Canberra.
Tang, H., & Li, W. (2017). Advances in the diagnosis and treatment of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine , 14 (3), 2424-2430.
Watson, D., & Drummond, P. (2014). Cervical Referral of Head Pain in Migraineurs: Effects on the Nociceptive Blink reflex. The Journal of Head and Face Pain , 54 (6), 1035-1045.
You, P., Instrum, R., & Parnes, L. (2019). Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo. Laragyscope Investigative Otolaryngology , 4 (1), 116-123.
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1. Saper, JR. The mixed headache syndrome: a new perspective. Headache Disorders: Current Concepts in Treatment Strategies. Littleton, MA: Wright-PSG Publishers, 1983; 22:284-286.
2. Saper, JR, Silberstein SD, Godeon CD, Hamel RL.. Handbook of Headache Management: A Practical Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment of Head, Neck, and Facial Pain. 2nd ed. Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 1999.
3. Bartsch T, Goadsby PJ. Stimulation of the greater occipital nerve (GON) enhances responsiveness of dural responsive convergent neurons in the trigeminocervical complex in the rat. Cephalalgia. 2001;21:401-402.
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