Spotlight On Aging: High Blood Pressure
Changes due to aging may contribute to high blood pressure with no known cause . As people age, large arteries gradually stiffen and small arteries may become partially blocked. Some experts think that this stiffening combined with the narrowing of small arteries may partly explain why blood pressure increases as people age.
When blood pressure is checked, two values are recorded. The higher value reflects the highest pressure in the arteries, which is reached when the heart contracts . The lower value reflects the lowest pressure in the arteries, which is reached just before the heart begins to contract again . Blood pressure is written as systolic pressure/diastolic pressurefor example, 120/80 mm Hg . This reading is referred to as “120 over 80.”
High Blood Pressure And Headaches During Menstruation
Many women get high blood pressure and headaches during their cycles. These headaches can be debilitating and disrupt daily life.
Period headaches can be moderate, and theyre often accompanied by irritation and painful breasts due to changes in blood flow. A person may be suffering from premenstrual syndrome in this scenario.
In persons who suffer from migraines, menstruation can also be a trigger. A menstrual migraine headache can occur before, during, or after a period.
This article will discuss how periods can induce headaches, the differences between PMS and migraine headaches, and when to seek medical help.
How Do Periods Relate To Your Headaches And High Blood Pressure
The female bodys hormones rise and fall during a menstrual cycle in preparation for pregnancy.
A typical cycle lasts between 25 and 30 days and lasts from the beginning of one period to the next.
Hormones including estrogen and progesterone assist in regulating the menstrual cycle, and their levels can influence the severity and frequency of headaches.
Acute migraine headaches and elevated blood pressure, for example, can occur when estrogen levels in the body drop dramatically, according to a 2014 review.
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What Is Blood Pressure
When your heart beats, it pumps blood into your arteries. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Blood pressure is measured as two numbers:
- Systolic blood pressure: The first number in a blood pressure reading, indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against the artery walls when your heart beats.
- Diastolic blood pressure: The second number in a blood pressure reading, it indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against the artery walls when your heart is resting between beats.
Your doctor measures these two types at almost every visit to note if these two numbers have changed. A change in your blood pressure during your period may indicate an underlying health condition.
Stroke And Brain Problems
High blood pressure can cause the arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the brain to burst or be blocked, causing a stroke. Brain cells die during a stroke because they do not get enough oxygen. Stroke can cause serious disabilities in speech, movement, and other basic activities. A stroke can also kill you.
Having high blood pressure, especially in midlife, is linked to having poorer cognitive function and dementia later in life. Learn more about the link between high blood pressure and dementia from the National Institutes of Healths Mind Your Risks® campaign.
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Migraines Headaches And Hormones
Some people get menstrual migraines, which happen anywhere from 2 days before their period to 3 days after it starts. But periods arenât the only trigger for hormonal headaches. Anything that leads to changes in levels of these hormones could cause headaches or make them worse.
How much hormone levels shift, not the change itself, determines how serious these headaches are.
What Are The Symptoms During Or After Delivery
High blood pressure often causes no noticeable symptoms, which is part of what makes the condition so dangerous. Go to the emergency room immediately if you experience any of these emergency symptoms, especially during pregnancy or after having a baby:
- Blood pressure of 160/110 or higher
- Seeing spots or sparkles
- Stomach pain, nausea, or vomiting
- Swelling in the hands or face
- Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
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What Are The Treatment Options For Menopausal Migraines
If you need to continue estrogen supplements after menopause, you should start on the lowest dose of these agents, on an uninterrupted basis. Instead of seven days off the drug, you may be told to take it every day. By maintaining a steady dose of estrogen, the headaches may be prevented. An estrogen patch may be effective in stabilizing the levels of estrogen.
What Should You Do To Prevent Pms
Though PMS is a widespread problem for millions of women worldwide, medical science is still unsure as to why it occurs and how to prevent it. But there are steps you can take to relieve the symptoms of PMS.
Taking regular aerobic exercise can help reduce stress and anxiety. Exercise is also great for reducing tiredness and fatigue as well as improving sleep quality. Try to eat healthily.
Avoid foods that are high in caffeine, sugar, or salt as they can aggravate the symptoms of PMS. Avoid smoking and alcohol. Smoking and alcohol consumption can increase irritability and worsen PMS.
Over-the-counter pain relief meds can be helpful to reduce the effects of physical symptoms during PMS. Prescription meds like Hormone pills, antidepressants, and diuretics can help with mood swings, bloating, tenderness, and other symptoms.
Always consult a doctor before trying to take meds for PMS.
Self-medication can worsen the symptoms or even cause severe reactions and complications Taking supplements to make up for vitamin and iron deficiencies can also help reduce the strain of PMS.
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How Common Is High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a common condition, it is estimated that 18% of adult men and 13% of adult women have high blood pressure but are not getting treatment for it.
In 90-95% of cases, there is no single identifiable reason for a rise in blood pressure. But all available evidence shows that lifestyle plays a significant role in regulating your blood pressure.
Risk factors for high blood pressure include:
- being overweight
- excessive alcohol consumption.
Also, for reasons not fully understood, people of Afro-Caribbean and South Asian origin are more likely to develop high blood pressure than other ethnic groups.
Secondary High Blood Pressure
Some cases of high blood pressure are the result of underlying factors or cause and this is known as secondary high blood pressure.
Underlying factors include:
- kidney conditions, such as a kidney infection, or kidney disease
- narrowing of the arteries
- hormonal conditions, such as Cushing’s syndrome
- conditions that affect the bodys tissue, such as lupus
- medication, such as the oral contraceptive pill, or the type of painkillers that are known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as ibuprofen
- recreational drugs, such as cocaine, amphetamines and crystal meth
Occasionally, a rise in blood pressure can result from taking herbal remedies, such as herbal supplements.
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Diagnosing High Blood Pressure
The only way to find out whether you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked regularly. Ask your GP when you are next due for yours to be checked.
Before having your blood pressure taken, you should rest for at least five minutes and empty your bladder. To get an accurate blood pressure reading, you should be sitting down and not talking when the reading is taken.
Having one high blood pressure reading does not necessarily mean that you have high blood pressure. Your blood pressure can change throughout the day. Feeling anxious or stressed when you visit your GP can raise your blood pressure .
Therefore, your GP will need to take several readings over a set period of time, usually every month, to see whether your blood pressure level is consistently high.
Blood and urine tests may also be carried out in order to check for conditions that are known to cause an increase in blood pressure, such as kidney infections.
You may also be given a blood pressure device to take home so that you can record your blood pressure level throughout the day. This also helps to identify white coat syndrome and therefore helps to identify the best treatment options for you.
What Triggers Migraines In Women
In addition to a drop in estrogen, birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy for menopause can change the frequency or severity of migraines. If you notice your migraine headache getting worse after starting one of these medications, it may be worthwhile to ask your healthcare provider for a medication that contains a lower dose of estrogen, or ask for a change from an interrupted dosing regimen to a continuous one.
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Common Causes Of High Blood Pressure Spikes
Some people with high blood pressure will experience sharp rises in their blood pressure. These spikes, which typically last only a short period of time, are also known as sudden high blood pressure. These are some possible causes:
- Certain medications or combinations of medications
- Chronic kidney disease
How Do You Diagnose Hypertension
A normal blood pressure reading contains two numbers: a diastolic and systolic reading. Normal diastolic blood pressures are 80 mm Hg or less, while normal systolic readings are 120 mm Hg or less. If you diastolic blood pressure is between 80-90 or if your systolic blood pressure is between 121-138 you are considered pre-hypertensive and you should get medical help to control this mild condition before it worsens. If your diastolic is consistently above 90 and your systolic is consistently above 140 you have hypertension. Many women balk at being told that they have hypertension and quickly point out that they are anxious in doctors offices and that they have white coat syndrome. Unfortunately, most of them are wrong. I usually point out that if they are hypertensive in a doctors office that there are plenty of other aggravating events in their lives that likely make them hypertensive as wellwaiting at an intersection for a light to change, arguing with their co-workers, husband and teen-age children are just a few examples. The point is thisno one likes to be told that they are hypertensive. But ignoring the issue only delays treatment and causes damage to ones heart, brain, kidneys and eyes.
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What Are Hormones What Is Estrogen
Hormones are often called your bodys chemical messengers. Theyre in your organs, tissues and bloodstream and theyre made by the endocrine glands. Examples of endocrine glands include your thyroid gland, adrenal glands and pituitary gland. If you have too little of a certain hormone, or too much, that can throw your entire system off balance.
Estrogen and progesterone are the two main sex hormones in women. Estrogen causes female physical features, sets off puberty and aids with reproduction. It also affects your cholesterol, controls your menstrual cycle, protects bone health and affects your heart, skin, bones, brain and other tissues. Its mostly produced by your ovaries.
Your levels of estrogen change. Theyre at the highest amount in the middle of your cycle and the lowest amount when youre on your period. When youre in menopause, they drop very low.
Evidence Contradicting The Idea
maintains that people do not usually experience headaches when their blood pressure is high unless it goes above a reading of 180/120 millimeters of mercury . At this point, it becomes a hypertensive crisis, which is a medical emergency.
Researchers have also looked at whether having regular headaches might affect a persons overall heart health.
A study in the American Journal of Hypertension followed 1,914 people with hypertension for 30 years and monitored their headaches. The results showed no link between the regular occurrence of headaches and the likelihood of cardiovascular mortality.
Therefore, there is no indication that people with hypertension who have regular headaches will have heart problems. However, the researchers propose that headaches might signal a need for treatment and make people more likely to take antihypertensive medications where necessary.
Many people with high blood pressure experience no symptoms. As a result, high blood pressure is known as a silent killer.
When blood pressure increases rapidly and severely, typically up to readings of 180/120 mm Hg or higher, this is known as a hypertensive crisis.
If a person has dangerously high blood pressure but no other symptoms, the condition is called hypertensive urgency. If they are experiencing additional symptoms, it is a hypertensive emergency.
Other symptoms can include:
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The Body’s Control Of Blood Pressure
The body has many mechanisms to control blood pressure. The body can change the
Amount of blood the heart pumps
Diameter of arteries
Volume of blood in the bloodstream
To increase blood pressure, the heart can pump more blood by pumping more forcefully or more rapidly. Small arteries can narrow , forcing the blood from each heartbeat through a narrower space than normal. Because the space in the arteries is narrower, the same amount of blood passing through them increases the blood pressure. Veins can constrict to reduce their capacity to hold blood, forcing more blood into the arteries. As a result, blood pressure increases. Fluid can be added to the bloodstream to increase blood volume and thus increase blood pressure.
To decrease blood pressure, the heart can pump less forcefully or rapidly, arterioles and veins can widen , and fluid can be removed from the bloodstream.
These mechanisms are controlled by the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system Autonomic nervous system The peripheral nervous system consists of more than 100 billion nerve cells that run throughout the body like strings, making connections with the brain, other parts of the body, and… read more and by the kidneys.
The sympathetic division uses several means to temporarily increase blood pressure during the fight-or-flight response .
Angiotensin II helps increase blood pressure by
Whats The Relationship Between Hormones And Headaches
Headaches in women, especially migraines, are related to changes in the levels of estrogen. Levels of estrogen drop immediately before the start of your menstrual flow .
Premenstrual migraines regularly occur during or after the time when the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, drop to their lowest levels.
Migraine attacks usually improve during pregnancy. However, some women have reported that their migraines started during the first trimester of pregnancy, and then went away.
Low Blood Pressure During Your Period
Low blood pressure and periods arent mentioned as often as high blood pressure, but having low blood pressure is one of the common symptoms of anemia. Anemia results from a lack of red blood cells or from having dysfunctional red blood cells that cant effectively carry oxygen to your bodys tissues. If you suffer from a lack of energy, extreme fatigue, or dizziness, it may indicate that your blood pressure is low. For an accurate diagnosis, it is best to follow up with your healthcare provider.
If Youre Like Me Your First Reaction Was To Think Pms And High Blood Pressure Whats The Connection So Far At Least Two Links Have Been Established: The First Between The Menstrual Cycle And Blood Pressure Fluctuations And The Second Between Moderate To Severe Pms Symptoms And The Risk Of High Blood Pressure So Is There Any Way Around It
First, keep in mind that high blood pressure is sneaky, because until it reaches sky-high levels, you usually wont even notice you have it. Yet behind the scenes, its increasing your risk of stroke, heart attack, heart failure, dementia, kidney disease and vision disorders. Simply put, its something to avoid at all costs!Unlike high blood pressure, PMS makes its presence known, so youre probably all too familiar with it. Its monthly arrival takes the form of a wide range of physical and psychological symptoms including fatigue, acne, bloating, mood swings, anxiety, lack of concentration and an unhealthy appetite for junk food. Sound familiar? Well, thats not surprising given that over 75% of women are affected by PMS to some degree, and they dont want to have anything to do with that either!
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What Does A Headache Caused By A Spike In Blood Pressure Feel Like
Theres no high-quality research showing that a headache from a spike in blood pressure feels any different from a regular headache, Dr. Laffin notes. He also points out that it can sometimes be tricky to tell whats causing what.
Another thing to remember about headaches and blood pressure is that its not always the blood pressure that causes a headache, says Dr. Laffin. It could be the other way around. Sometimes, its a chicken and the egg scenario. We dont know which comes first. Headaches can cause an elevation in blood pressure.
Depending on how the spike in blood pressure is affecting your body, you might also have other symptoms along with a headache, including:
If you notice a spike in blood pressure, that elevated number in itself doesnt mean you need to go to a hospital, Dr. Laffin says. But if its coupled with something new, like a severe headache, severe chest pain or shortness of breath, then you should go get evaluated.