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Higher Pulse Pressure Linked to Lower Headache Risk

Mechanism may involve stimulation of baroreflex arch

TUESDAY, April 15 (HealthDay News) -- A study investigating the association between blood pressure and headache reports that a high pulse pressure appears to protect against both migraine and non-migraine headaches. The research is published in the April 15 issue of Neurology.

Erling Tronvik, M.D., of Trondheim University Hospital in Trondheim, Norway, and colleagues used data from two large population-based epidemiologic studies, including over 120,000 participants, to investigate the association between migraine and non-migraine headaches and blood pressure variables of systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, mean arterial pressure and pulse pressure.

The researchers found that increasing systolic blood pressure was associated with a decreased prevalence of both types of headaches. The most striking finding, however, was the highly significant relationship between increasing pulse pressure and decreased prevalence of migraine and non-migraine headaches in both sexes. Anti-hypertensive therapy weakened the relationship, the report indicates.

"Both increased systolic blood pressure and pulse pressure are related to arterial stiffness and may decrease headache prevalence through modulation of the baroreflex arch, which in turn generates hypoalgesia," the authors write. "Stimulation of the baroreflex arch in response to increased blood pressure is assumed to inhibit pain transmission at both spinal and supraspinal levels, possibly because of an interaction of the centers modulating nociception and cardiovascular reflexes in the brainstem."

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