Blood pressure medication

There’s a new report in the Oct 11 2005 edition of the journal Circulation about headaches and blood pressure medication.  The question is, do drugs that are meant to treat high blood pressure also help alleviate headaches?  The answer seems to be yes.  But why?

The types of drugs we’re talking about are beta blockers, thiazide diuretics, ACE inhibitors, and angiotensin II receptor antagonists.  According to the report, they seem to generally lessen headaches by about a third.

It was once thought that headaches were a result of high blood pressure, but the facts didn’t seem to bear this out.  Of course, migraine attacks were thought to be all about blood vessels too, but it’s now believed that migraine originates deep in the chemicals of the brain.

Some of these drugs may sound familiar to a migraineur.  Beta blockers, for example, are often used for migraine.  It may be that migraineurs were mixed in with the headache patients, and that may have coloured the results.  In the end, we really don’t know for sure why these drugs work.

The authors of the report are quick to point out that this is by no means the answer when you have a headache.  For one thing, lessening headaches by a third is not really that spectacular.  There are many drugs that can do much better, and a simple aspirin or tylenol is probably all you need, if anything.  Still, this may be a clue into what causes headaches, or what makes them worse.

Read about the study on blood pressure medication at, or find out more about preventative migraine medication, such as beta-blockers.

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