12/17/07 #2 - Does increased blood pressure during Migraine increase stroke risk?

Health Professional

Full Question:

I have had migraines for over half of my life. I have never had high blood pressure. The past 3 times I have seen my doctor, I was in the middle of a migraine and my bp was high for me. My normal bp is around 120/70. During 2 of my visits recently, it was around 140/95, and once it was 160/90. The nurse said it was just because I was in pain and it was nothing to worry about. Does this put me at a higher risk for stroke, for my bp to go that high? In the past, I have had really low bp, but this was at the ER, after I had taken medications, usually pain meds. Thanks, Sherry.


Dear Sherry;

Hypertension is a risk factor for stroke. Although what you experience isn't true hypertension, it your levels have been a bit high. The American Heart Association gives this information:

Your blood pressure can change from minute to minute, with changes in posture, exercise or sleeping, but it should normally be less than 120/80 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury) for an adult. Blood pressure that stays between 120-139/80-89 is considered prehypertension and above this level (140/90 mm Hg or higher) is considered high (hypertension). Your doctor may take several readings over time before deciding whether your blood pressure is high.

Pain often causes an increase in blood pressure. That's another reason to work toward an effective treatment regimen that prevents as many Migraines as possible and treats those you do get as quickly as possible. Blood pressure problems such as you describe are generally not considered a big problem as long as your blood pressure drops back to "normal" when your Migraine ends. It could be beneficial to have your blood pressure checked a few times when you're not in pain to be sure that it's not elevated then. That way, if you do have hypertension, you can be treated and be safer. Please do discuss this with your doctor at your next visit?

Migraine itself presents a slightly increased risk of stroke. For more information, see ___Migraine and Stroke Risk___. This is nothing to panic over, but it's reason enough to talk to your doctor about any modifiable stroke risks you may have.

Good luck,
John Claude Krusz and Teri Robert

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