People with high blood pressure appear to be less likely to have migraine than those with low blood pressure. Researchers say stiff arteries associated with high blood pressure may play a role in protecting against migraine.
Researchers tested the blood pressure of 51,353 men and women over the age 20 in Norway, including the systolic, diastolic and pulse pressure rates. Pulse pressure is the change in blood pressure when the heart contracts. The rate is determined by subtracting the diastolic blood pressure, the bottom number, from the systolic blood pressure, or the top number.
The participants also completed a survey on the presence and frequency of headaches and their use of blood pressure medications.
The study found people with higher systolic blood pressure were up to 40 percent less likely to have a headache or migraine compared to people with healthier blood pressure rates.
"Higher pulse pressure was linked to up to a 50-percent reduction in the amount of headache and migraine for both men and women," said study author Erling Tronvik, MD, with the Norwegian National Headache Center at Trondheim University Hospital in Trondheim, Norway. "The finding was not as strong, however, for people who were taking blood pressure medications, which are sometimes used to treat migraine."
Tronvik says both high systolic blood pressure and pulse pressure are related to stiff arteries and that may decrease the risk of headaches by affecting the baroreflex arch. "The baroreflex arch helps maintain blood pressure, but when it is affected, it can cause hypoalgesia, a condition that makes a person less sensitive to pain," said Tronvik.
Tronvik says these results confirm previous studies which have found that increasing blood pressure is linked to decreasing amounts of chronic pain in all parts of the body.
The research is published in the April 15, 2008, issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
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