Blood Pressure's Link to Migraines

High blood pressure is linked to fewer headaches, due in large part to having stiffer artery walls, which affects a homeostatic process that regulates blood pressure and decreases sensitivity to pain.

According to an article by Medical News Today, high blood pressure is linked to fewer headaches, due in large part to having stiffer artery walls, which affects a homeostatic process that regulates blood pressure and decreases sensitivity to pain.

The study is the work of Norwary neurologist Erling Tronvik, MD, from the Norwegian National Headache Center, Trondheim University Hospital, in Trondheim, Norway, and colleagues, and is published in the early online 15th April issue of the journal Neurology.

Many blood pressure drugs are also used to treat migraines, but the link between blood pressure and headache remains somewhat unclear. The purpose of the study was to explore the link between blood pressure and headache frequency, and how blood pressure medication affects that relationship. Researchers obtained data from two large epidemiologic studies covering 51,353 men and women over the age of 20 living in Norway. They looked at the association between migraine and nonmigrainous headache and various measures of blood pressure: systolic, diastolic, mean arterial, and pulse pressure.

Systolic blood pressure is when the heart contracts (the higher measure), diastolic is when the heart relaxes (the lower measure), mean arterial pressure is the average of diastolic and systolic, and pulse pressure is systolic minus diastolic (the change in pressure when the heart contracts).

The results showed that increasing systolic pressure was linked with decreasing prevalence of migraine and nonmigrainous headache (people with higher systolic blood pressure were up to 40 percent less likely to have headaches).

Tronvik says these results confirmed previous studies that showed increasing blood pressure was linked to decreasing amounts of chronic pain in all parts of the body.