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People who experience a hypertensive crisis and don’t seek medical help urgently are exposed to permanent health damage, and even risk death.

Hypertension can be diagnosed with the help of a blood pressure monitor. It’s a common apparatus in every doctor’s office, and testing blood pressure is a normal part of a routine check-up. Alternatively, people can also purchase a monitor in a pharmacy and check their blood pressure at home anytime.

Even if symptoms of high blood pressure are rare, severe headaches are listed among them. So how do hypertension and headaches influence one another?

Hypertension and headaches

Different studies that have been conducted revealed connections between hypertension and headaches, but some evidence against this claim has also surfaced. Some studies have shown that people who experience headaches as a result of high blood pressure can feel pain on both sides of the head.

When you experience this type of pain, it’s normally accompanied by a feeling of pulsation. This happens as a consequence of hypertension affecting the blood-brain barrier. When there is excess pressure on your brain, there are blood leaks from the vessels.

The result is edema, which is a medical term used for swelling. In other words, the brain doesn’t have any more room in the skull to expand. The swelling will put pressure on the brain, causing headaches, but also a series of other related symptoms, such as fatigue, blurred vision, dizziness, nausea, and even seizures.

On the other hand, some other studies have revealed that headaches aren’t related to high blood pressure, unless the monitor reads more than 180/120.

Hypertensive headaches

When a person’s blood monitor reads 180/120 or above, it’s a sign of hypertensive crisis. One of the most common signs of such a crisis is a severe headache, but one that’s also accompanied by a sense of dizziness. As the condition progresses, this headache can also cause a blurred vision, confusion, difficulty in controlling movement, and even severe anxiety.

Two important terms come into play here. Hypertensive urgency is when a person has a critically high blood pressure, but doesn’t display any symptoms. If the blood pressure is high, but accompanied by a set of symptoms, it’s known as hypertensive emergency.

A doctor is the most indicated person to classify a patient’s type of hypertensive headache, by also examining the other symptoms. When someone suffers a hypertensive emergency, doctor will normally administer intravenous medication, such as sodium nitroprusside, nitroglycerin, or nicardipine.

It’s crucial for people to avoid trying to lower their blood pressure at home, by taking medication which they think might help. By taking meds for blood pressure reduction, you risk affecting your brain’s blood flow, which can cause a number of other side effects. Doctors will always know what to do in such cases, and can lower the blood pressure while also monitoring the patient at all times.

Important terminology

As established, headaches are linked to extremely high blood pressure. Some important terms on this subject are:

  • Malignant hypertension is characterized by blood pressure that lowers and rises rapidly over a short period of time. When this happens, medical assistance is required immediately.
  • Hypertensive encephalopathy is a term used to describe brain swelling as a result of high blood pressure. In consequence, people with hypertensive encephalopathy can experience intense headaches, drowsiness, nausea, seizures, or even a coma.
  • Idiopathic intracranial hypertension is also a result of high blood pressure in the skull. It’s most common in women who are overweight, and it’s typically accompanied by obscured or double vision, or nausea. Some people also hear a throbbing noise.

Treating headaches

Normally, treating headaches shouldn’t be complicated, regardless of whether it’s caused by high blood pressure or some other factor. There are both medical and more unconventional ways to relieve yourself of headaches:

  • There are certain types of medication that you doctor can prescribe to treat potential headaches. While people who don’t have hypertension just go to the pharmacy and purchase a common treatment, people with high blood pressure need to be really careful with what medication they take. Among the side effects of certain types of meds, high blood pressure may be listed, so it’s best to talk to your doctor and ask for their recommendation.
  • Alternatively, there are natural means for treating headaches at home, although they might not work for everyone. Some people consume foods that have anti-inflammatory agents, such as flax seeds, celery, or blueberries.
  • Aromatherapy is now being used for several medical conditions, to improve a person’s wellbeing. Some of the oils used in aromatherapy also have topical applications. For example, lavender is known for soothing the nervous system, and is particularly useful when dealing with headaches that are a result of stress.
  • Reducing your caffeine intake can also help. Caffeine, while keeping you up in the morning, also causes headaches, but also increased your blood pressure. On another note, there are also chances of experience headaches if you decide to eliminate caffeine from your diet.
High blood pressure is not a rare occurrence, so the best way of dealing with the headaches that are related to it is to avoid hypertension altogether. Naturally, this implies a lifestyle change on a permanent base which includes three main points: chances in your diet, changing a sedentary lifestyle for a more active one, and trying to steer clear of stress.

For those who suffer from hypertension, doctors recommend including as many fruits and vegetables into their diet as possible, along with avoiding fats, high quantities of sugar, caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, and too much salt.


People who experience a hypertensive crisis and don’t seek medical help urgently are exposed to permanent health damage, and even risk death. The consequences of a hypertensive crisis can lead to stroke, seizures, permanent heart or kidney damage, chest pains, and even excessive lung fluids.

Since headaches have been linked to hypertensive crisis, it’s important to constantly check your blood pressure if you suspect a link between the two, and immediately go to the hospital if your readings (both the initial and second one) are 180/120 or above.

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