High Blood Pressure and Hair Loss

High blood pressure (hypertension) is a chronic medical condition that can cause heart attacks, strokes and early death. Hair loss is not directly caused by high blood pressure, but all patients must be aware of how certain hypertension medications can affect the hair.

Hypertension can begin in young adulthood, but the older an individual gets, the more likely they will develop high blood pressure. Most cases of hypertension show no symptoms, so the only way to tell is to have regular medical checkups that include a test with a blood pressure cuff. A reading of 120/80 mmHg or higher may indicate some form of hypertension. Only a doctor can diagnose hypertension. Even moderate chronic hypertension can cause problems.

Many cases of hypertension can be alleviated through diet and lifestyle changes. A regular, appropriate exercise routine is crucial. Diet and nutrition must be addressed, including balancing mineral intake (especially sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium), reducing refined sugars, and increasing fruit and vegetable consumption. Stress reduction is also important; for example, peer-reviewed published research on the Transcendental Meditation technique has demonstrated that it helps lower blood pressure.>Continue reading High Blood Pressure and Hair Loss” />

When diet and lifestyle changes are not effective in controlling hypertension, drug treatment may prove to be essential. One of the most commonly prescribed types of antihypertensive drugs are beta blockers.

Beta blockers for hypertension work by relaxing the blood vessels. The heart rate slows. Blood flow is improved, and blood pressure goes down.

One of the side effects of beta blockers for high blood pressure is hair loss. The hair loss can progress quickly, resulting in considerable balding in just a few years. Atenolol is a particularly noted for its deleterious effects on the hair.

Stay on your meds: It is important to note that if you suffer or die early from a hypertension-related illness, no one will care how much hair you have. If a doctor prescribes a medication, you need to discuss possible side effects and how to mitigate them. Additionally, be strong with all the diet and lifestyle changes your doctor recommends.

One of the common treatments for hair loss is Minoxidil, commonly known as Rogaine. It is available as a tablet and topical medication. Minoxidil was originally developed to treat hypertension by causing the blood vessels to dilate (open). Minoxidil is not prescribed to treat high blood pressure, but it can help mitigate the side effects of medications that can cause hair loss, such as beta blockers for hypertension.

Minoxidil has a side effect on the cellular activity and structure of the hair follicles. It affects the rate of hair growth. The exact mechanism is for these processes are not known. Minoxidil itself can have side-effects that should be considered before taking it.

The only permanent treatment for most kinds of hair loss, including permanent hair loss as a side effect of medication, is a hair transplant. A hair transplant involves moving hair follicles from one part of the scalp to the balding area. It is conducted under local anesthetic in a hair transplant surgeon’s office on an out-patient basis.

To be eligible for a hair transplant, the patient must get medical clearance. Patients with uncontrolled high blood pressure are not candidates for a hair transplant until the blood pressure is brought under control. Therefore, working with your doctor is crucial.

Sources:
Atenolo – PubMed Health – U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000819
“Stress Reduction Programs in Patients with Elevated Blood Pressure: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.” Current Hypertension Report December 2007.