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Sudden high blood pressure-debilitating headache

I have no history of high blood pressure or migraines.  I am 57, healthy, 140 lbs.  About a week ago, I started having headache episodes that would actually knock me to my knees.  I could hardly stand the pain.  Accompanied by nausea.  The headaches were throbbing starting in my neck and my entire head.  They would last an hour or so and then subside, not go away completely, but just to a dull ache, only to come back a few hours later full throttle.  My husband ended up taking my BP and it was elevated (highest reading was 173/93).  On Sunday, I finally ended up at the ER, because I just couldn't stand the pain and I was getting concerned about the BP.  My highest BP reading was 211/110.  At the ER, they had me on an IV and gave me meds that they would normally give someone with a severe migraine.  This did not even phase the headache I had.  My BP kept going up.  They finally gave me morphine and that helped of course and the BP went down.  The ER doctor said that, in his opinion, the BP is causing the headache, not the other way around.  I have an appointment with my family doctor tomorrow.  Started seeing blood in my urine, so not sure what's up with that.  Any thoughts?
2 Responses
Avatar universal
It's good you're seeing your doctor tomorrow!  Maybe you will get some answers and some relief at last.

Here are some things I would ask the doc about (you can google them):

Cluster headaches.  These are extremely severe headaches that come on in, well, clusters.  They tend to last an hour or less, but return again and again in the course of a day, and this can go on for days, weeks, or longer, only to go away entirely for long periods.  They are more common in men, and victims say the pain is the worst they have ever experienced, enough to make them pound their heads against a wall.  You don't need a history of migraines here--cluster headaches can appear at any point in life, and completely out of the blue.

About the blood pressure:  pain raises blood pressure, and great pain raises it greatly.  But your doc will probably want to check your kidney function, because that's important in regulating BP.

There is a very rare benign tumor of the adrenal gland called pheochromocytoma, which can cause recurrent episodes of high BP and headaches also,  it is treatable, but as I say, extremely rare.

Another possibility is something no one understands very well:  it's "severe paroxysmal hypertension (pseudopheochromocytoma)", but I don't believe headache is such a big part of the condition.

About the blood in the urine, the most likely cause in a woman is a urinary tract infection--very common and highly treatable.  But another cause can be problems higher up in the kidney, which can affect BP, so once again, I think kidney function should be checked out.

There are other causes of severe headaches, of course, so your doc will want to ask if the pain is related to changes in position, or if you have sinus problems.

Your doc will probably order a scan of your head to see if there is a visible cause for your pain up there, things like blood vessel malformations, clogged sinuses way high up, or tumors (not very likely).

Just from your description of your headaches, though, their severity and the way they recur, it sounds more like cluster headaches to me.
995271 tn?1463924259
Hi, this board if for folks having Heart Rhythm issues, which this doesn't sound like it is.  Hopefully the mods will know where to place this so it gets into a forum with more expertise on this issue.
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