Pheochromocytoma The Rare Tumor That Causes Extremely High Blood Pressure And Headache
Pheochromocytoma is a rare tumor and a rare cause of uncontrolled very high blood pressure. The classic triad of things associated with a pheochromocytoma is episodic headaches, palpitations and sweating. The headaches are typically associated with palpitations, sweating and anxiety. These symptoms, along with the markedly elevated blood pressure are due to hormones / biochemical substances produced by the tumor. The diagnosis is typically made with blood tests.
Blood Pressure: How High Is Too High
Systolic blood pressure is the upper number in a blood pressure measurement. It refers to how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when your heart beats. The lower number, diastolic pressure, refers to how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when your heart is resting between beats. A blood pressure of less than 120/80 mm Hg is considered normal.
Nearly half of adults in the U.S. have high blood pressuremeaning greater than 130/80 mm Hgaccording to the American Heart Association . When untreated, high blood pressure increases the risk for heart attack, stroke, and other complications by damaging blood vessels throughout your body.
“In most cases, high blood pressure does not cause headaches, nosebleeds, or any other symptoms,” stresses Salim Virani, MD, professor, sections of cardiology and cardiovascular research, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston.
“If you are waiting for symptoms to tell you that you have high blood pressure, you have missed the boat,” he says. “Waiting for symptoms is actually a very big mistake. We need to pick up high blood pressure in the absence of symptoms.” This gives doctors the best opportunity to treat high blood pressure and avoid complications.
If you have high blood pressure, you have to take your medicine every day, even if you feel fine. Don’t wait for symptoms to take your medication, says Dr. Virani.
What Else You Should Know About Ocular Migraines
An ocular migraine is short-lived and may not be painful, but it can be debilitating you have to be careful while doing daily activities like driving, reading, or writing. The chance of permanent vision loss due to an ocular migraine is rare but the reduced blood flow for a prolonged time can damage your retina. So it is a good idea to make an appointment with your ophthalmologist to check your condition.
Since hormones play such a big role in causing migraines, declining estrogen levels as women age and enter menopause is a reason why migraines usually reduce in severity in older women.11
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What Causes A Thunderclap Headache
Some thunderclap headaches have no known cause and are not dangerous. Others occur because of a problem with the blood vessels in the brain or due to injury or heavy exertion. Causes of thunderclap headaches include:
- Torn or ruptured blood vessels in the brain
- Brain aneurysm
- Head injury that causes a brain bleed
- Infection in the brain such as encephalitis or meningitis
- Sudden severe rise in blood pressure
- Late-term pregnancy complications including rise in blood pressure and bleeding in the brains pituitary gland during pregnancy or soon after delivery
- Spasms in the blood vessels around the brain
Seek Help For Serious Sudden Headaches
Although most headaches are not serious and will go away on their own, it’s important to recognize when headache pain could be a sign of a larger issue.
Stephen D. Silberstein, MD, director of the Jefferson Headache Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and past president of the American Headache Society, advises: “If your headache is bad, new, or changing, see somebody.”
Additional reporting by Becky Upham.
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How Does High Blood Pressure Cause Headaches
Pain levels depend on how high someones blood pressure is. Hypertension headaches may range from mild to severe and are regulated by how much blood is reaching the brain. During times of high blood pressure, blood vessels running through the tissue under the skull constrict or tighten, leading to headache development.
It is also possible for blood pressure medication to cause headaches. Checking blood pressure during headaches can be a good indicator of whether it is caused by abnormal blood pressure levels.
Some medical professionals believe that having a headache due to high blood pressure is a sign of a hypertensive crisis, which is when blood pressure spikes to critical levels.
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 .
|Symptoms of Hypertension||Potential Symptoms of Hypertension headache|
|Headaches||Pulsating, throbbing early morning headache|
|Shortness of breath|
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Outlook For Idiopathic Ih
Idiopathic IH is not usually life threatening, but can be a lifelong problem. While many people find their symptoms are relieved with treatment, but the symptoms can come back and can have a significant impact on your life.
There’s also a risk that you could lose your vision, even though treatment can help reduce this risk.
Permanent vision loss is estimated to happen to 1 in every 5 to 20 people with idiopathic IH.
Find out more about living with IH at the IIH UK website.
Page last reviewed: 21 October 2019 Next review due: 21 October 2022
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What Are The Risk Factors For A Thunderclap Headache
People with certain inherited conditions such as weak blood vessels or a tendency to develop blood clots have a higher risk of thunderclap headaches.
Some people with high blood pressure may be more likely to experience thunderclap headaches. These people may be at higher risk of having a blood vessel rupture in the brain.
For some people, activities such as heavy exertion and sexual activity can trigger thunderclap headaches. Once you identify these triggers, avoiding them can help reduce the number of headaches you experience. Your doctor can provide treatment options, including medications, to reduce your likelihood of repeated thunderclap headaches.
Precipitated By Valsalva Maneuver
The Valsalva maneuver is a breathing technique that your doctor may use to rule out whats called a posterior fossa lesion or tumor. The posterior fossa is the small space in the skull near the brain stem and cerebellum. Other symptoms of this type of tumor are drowsiness, imbalance, nausea, and vomiting, according to MedlinePlus.
To perform the Valsalva maneuver, breathe out strongly through your mouth, pinch your nose shut and press the air out like you are blowing up a balloon.
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Causes Of Chronic Intracranial Hypertension
Possible causes of chronic intracranial hypertension include:
- a blood clot on the surface of your brain, known as a chronic subdural haematoma
- an infection in your brain, such as meningitis or encephalitis
- hydrocephalus, where fluid builds up around and inside your brain
- abnormal blood vessel, such as an arteriovenous fistula or arteriovenous malformation
- a blood clot in one of the veins of your brain, known as a venous sinus thrombosis
Rare causes include a blockage in the circulation of fluid at the bottom of the skull , inflammation of the blood vessels in the brain and abnormal skull growth in children .
Can Thunderclap Headaches Be Prevented
Because they come on without warning, it is difficult to prevent thunderclap headaches. Managing underlying health conditions and avoiding triggers are the best ways to keep them from occurring. If you have high blood pressure or vascular problems, it is important to work with your doctor to follow a regular treatment plan.
Maintaining a healthy diet and active lifestyle helps keep blood pressure from rising to levels that could cause a condition involving a thunderclap headache. In addition, quitting smoking and controlling cholesterol levels can help reduce the risk of blood vessel problems.
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Is Your Headache A Sign Of Something Serious
Most headaches are not serious, but seeking help for those that are could save your life.
Jamie Grill Atlas/Stocksy
“I thought it was just my sinuses that hurt, Billie says. But it didn’t get any better, and it was different from the headaches I usually got. My face hurt so much I didn’t even want to brush my teeth. So my husband called the doctor, and he told us to come in right away. Turns out I had giant cell arteritis . If I had waited, the doctor said I might have had a stroke.”
Billie’s story serves as a warning that sometimes a headache is more than just a headache. In fact, a headache can be an early warning sign of more complicated and serious health issues such as stroke, infection, or high blood pressure.
Blood Pressure Changes In Patients With Migraine: Evidences Controversial Views And Potential Mechanisms Of Comorbidity
Sherifa Ahmed Hamed *
Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, Assiut University Hospital, Assiut, Egypt
- *Corresponding Author:
- Dr. Sherifa Ahmed Hamed Consultant Neurologist Associate Professor Assiut University Hospital, Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, Floor # 4, Room # 4, Assiut, Egypt P.O.Box 71516 Telephone: +2 088 23749
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Aura: Warning Sign Of A Migraineand A Future Stroke
Excruciating pain. Nausea. Sensitivity to light. The crushing symptoms of migraine headaches affect 15% of the population and, unfortunately, women are 3 times as likely as men to experience them.
Migraine headaches alone are bad enough. But add the symptoms related to auras and your risk of a future stroke goes up significantly.
A migraine headache with aura, known as a classical migraine, affects up to 30% of migraine sufferers. Five to 20 minutes before the onset of the headache, you see flashing lights, sparks, and dark patches. These effects might be accompanied by the feeling of pins and needles, spreading from one part of your body to another.
In some ways the aura is a good thing. Longtime sufferers recognize the aura as a warning sign of an oncoming migraine. It allows the victim to prepare, taking medication to reduce the severity of the migraine.
The migraine with aura should also be seen as a warning sign of possible stroke and heart problems.
WHAT IS THE RISK?
First, the good news: In most people, migraines rarely result in a stroke. Evidence says its also unlikely that a stroke will occur during a migraine.
The not-so-good news: People who suffer migraines are more likely to eventually have some type of heart or vascular problem. A cause-and-effect hasnt been proven. In other words, the migraine with aura doesnt CAUSE the stroke. But the two do occur together.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Hypertension: What Is The Link With Headaches
Dr. Gaurangi Shah explain, “Hypertension is a serious health condition that accounts to a huge number of heart attacks, paralysis and is also the second leading cause of kidney failure, after diabetes. It is also known as a silent killer as high blood pressure doesn’t show any symptoms. In most cases after severe complications, hypertension is detected.”
“Headache is one of the symptoms of hypertension but is not always. The reason for headache amongst individuals with high blood pressure is a sudden rise in pressure inside the cranium. The headaches due to high blood pressure occur in the occipital region. This pain does not get relived with an analgesic or painkiller. One will need to reduce their blood pressure for the same.”
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Headache Caused By High Blood Pressure
Extremely high blood pressure can cause a headache in people with or without diagnosed hypertension.
This type of headache only happens when blood pressure is severely elevated to 180/120 millimeters of mercury or higher, according to the American Heart Association. Normal blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg.
When blood pressure is extremely elevated, its a medical emergency known as a hypertensive crisis, and medical attention is needed right away.
Migraine And Hypertension Risk
Several studies have identified links between migraine and high blood pressure. One report examined the relationship between women with migraine and hypertension. There were 29,040 women who participated. They did not have hypertension at the onset of the study. They were separated into several categories: active migraine without aura, active migraine with aura, history of migraine, and no history of migraine.
The follow-up, conducted 12.2 years after the study began, showed that of the 29,040 participants, 15,176 experienced incident hypertension. When compared with the women who did not have a history of migraine:
- Migraine with aura 9% risk increase for hypertension
- Migraine without aura 21% risk increase for hypertension
- History of migraine 15% risk increase for hypertension
Anytime that pain is present, it puts stress on the body. Stress, particularly prolonged stress, can cause a persons blood pressure to rise. Pain is one of the hallmark symptoms of migraine and they can last for hours, days, weeks, or even longer. This continual stress can indeed lead to hypertension. Likewise, continual stress, such as what the body endures when blood pressure is elevated, can trigger migraine. It is important to note that hypertension does not necessarily cause migraine, but it is very likely that it can be a trigger.
- Obesity or being overweight
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What Are Hypertension Headaches
The pain of these headaches is usually felt on both sides of the head and pulses or throbs. The pain goes away when the persons blood pressure goes down. High blood pressure in these cases means:1
- A systolic number of 180 mmHg or higher
- A diastolic number of 120 mmHg or higher
Lower levels of high blood pressure do not seem to cause headaches. Mid-range high blood pressure may lead to headaches but doctors are not completely sure.1
Hypertension headaches are known as secondary headaches. This means that the headache is caused by an underlying health condition. A severe headache may be a sign of dangerously high blood pressure.
Ive 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.
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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 are linked to hypertensive headache. In the population of pheochromocytoma patients, 80 % have been linked to episodic headaches .
The patients that we see at Brisbane Headache & Migraine Clinic often dont 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.
I Hardly Ever Get Headaches Could It Possible Be Caused By High Blood Pressure
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When Should I Call The Doctor Or Seek Emergency Care
Go to the emergency room if you are experiencing a thunderclap headache for the first time. It is urgent to determine if a dangerous condition is the underlying cause so it can be treated quickly if necessary. Some conditions associated with a thunderclap headache can be fatal without prompt treatment.
Managing Migraines At Home
People who have regular, frequent, or unmanageable migraines should getadvice from their doctor. The doctor should check their blood pressure at the same time, to rule out any link with blood pressure that should be treated.
Some people with migraines may find that they can identify triggers some people get migraines after certain foods, with hormonal changes, with illness, stress, or anxiety. Being able to recognise and manage these triggers, or at least anticipate the possibility of a migraine can help with migraine management.
Managing a migraine attack is also quite an individual process many people find that being in a darkened room or trying to sleep can help. Taking a dose of a simple painkiller like paracetamol at the very start of the symptoms can help to reduce the overall severity of the migraine.
If simple home management of migraine isnt working, or theyre frequent and severe enough to have an impact on your day-to-day life, a doctor may consider further investigations or can prescribe stronger treatment for migraine. If nausea and vomiting are a problem, anti-sickness medication can also be prescribed.
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