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High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure spike/headache

01/31/2008

Question:

Over one week ago I had a blood pressure spike of 150/84 and my blood pressure was out of control for 2 days even on medication. Since the spike, I have had a mild headache, minor dizziness and  slight head pressure (behind the eyes) daily off and on for over one week. It is more noticeable around noon and can be partially remedied by tylenol. Could this be a result of the blood pressure spike? I had no headache prior to the blood pressure spike. My doctor suggested a possible CT scan, which I would prefer not to have due to radiation unless absolutely necessary, as I heard CT scans may cause cancer. Any advice is a plus to help me determine my course of treatment. Thank you.

Answer:

It is possible that high blood pressure causes a headache, even at a level of 150/84.  However, such an effect should not be prolonged and is unlikely to persist once your blood pressure comes back down to normal.

Most headaches are benign and will go away.  However, there are a few symptoms or signs that indicate that a more serious disorder may present:

"Worst headache ever";  Doesn't resolve after 2 - 3 weeks; Fever, vomiting;  Headache immediately after waking up; severe headache that starts after age 55.

If any of those signs apply, you should get a work-up, possibly including a CT scan of the head.  The radiation exposure from a CT scan is low, and there should be no cancer risk.

For more information:

Go to the High Blood Pressure health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Max C Reif, MD Max C Reif, MD
Professor of Medicine
Director of Hypertension Section
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati