Background: Although it is generally acknowledged to be a problem in severe hypertension, headache has not been consistently associated with mild-to-moderate hypertension.
Patients and methods: In 7 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials, which included 2,673 patients with mild-to-moderate hypertension (defined as seated diastolic blood pressure of 95-110 mm Hg), patients were randomized to receive once-daily treatment with irbesartan, an angiotensin II receptor blocker (n= 1,987), or placebo (n=686). The data were pooled and analyzed retrospectively to determine whether the level of hypertension was associated with headache and whether antihypertensive therapy reduced the incidence of headache.
Results: Factors found to be predictive of headache incidence were diastolic blood pressure, sex (female), and age (<50 years). In comparison with placebo, the use of irbesartan was associated with a significant reduction in the incidence of headache (P=.003).
Conclusions: These data suggest that mild-to-moderate hypertension is not asymptomatic and that the incidence of headache can be reduced by antihypertensive treatment with a favorable adverse effect profile.