Migraine With Aura Pegs Risk For All Stroke Types In Women


Women Migraineurs Experiencing Aura Are At An Increased Risk Of Suffering All Stroke Types (1)

A research that studied 28,000 women has found that such women as those who experience migraines with aura – either visual or sensational and non-visual are at a significantly increased risk of suffering from all types of strokes (ischemic or hemorrhagic ) as those compared to women who do not experience migraines. The findings of the study are to be presented at the International Headache Congress 2013 at Boston. (2)

Ischemic strokes occur when there is a blockage causing reduced blood supply to any part of the brain leading to brain cell and tissue death. Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when an artery in the brain ruptures and causes bleeding in the brain.

Visual aura in migraineurs is a neurological phenomenon typified by visual aberrations or distortions such as perceiving an image as partly broken or with zigzag lines, experiencing blind spots, having a vision festered with sparks or flashing and shimmering lights, inability to gauge distance or margin between two objects. It could involve seeing of wavy lines and experiencing hallucinations. (3)

Aura a migraineur may suffer from may be non-visual in nature such as experiencing vertigo, numbness of tongue, feeling pins and needles on the palms and face or even experiencing of motor debility.

According to Dr. Tobias Kurth, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston , “Migraine with aura has been consistently linked with increased risk of ischemic stroke and there is also some evidence that it increases risk of hemorrhagic stroke. In this study we sought to determine the importance of migraine with aura in stroke occurrence relative to other stroke risk factors” (4)

The following observations were made during the study:


Migraineurs With Aura

Cardiovascular Patients

Base Year or Year 0 1435 0
Year 15 1435 528 strokes:

  • 430 Ischemic
  • 96 Hemorrhagic
  • 02 Unknown strokes

It was concluded in the news release that for total, ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, migraine with aura was a strong relative contributor.

Caution: The data and conclusions of research presented at medical meetings are typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.


  1. Image Credit: Woman Holding Her Head; Photographer: Marin; FreeDigitalPhotos.net; http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/agree-terms.php?id=100173635
  2. Migraine With Aura May Be Linked to All Stroke Types; Medicinet.com; Web June 2013; http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=170823
  3. Migraines With Aura, Chapter 5, Page 34; Migraines For The Informed Woman by Mamta Singh; ISBN: 978-81-291-1517-1; June 2013; http://www.amazon.com/Migraines-Informed-Woman-Tips-Sufferer/dp/8129115174
  4. Migraine With Aura May Be Linked to All Stroke Types; WebMD.com; Web June 2013; http://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/news/20130626/migraine-with-aura-may-be-linked-to-all-stroke-types

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Biological Roots of Migraine Identified In Large Scale Genome Study

Gene Skull

12 genetic regions have been identified with migraine susceptibility (1)

How does a migraineur look to you when not experiencing a migraine attack?  I suspect you would say, ‘I had no idea ABC suffered migraines at all’ or ‘s/he looks fit and fine to me’. Correct. Both times…and that is what makes migraine as a neurological disorder very hard to study by researchers. The underlying pathologies and biomarkers are just not present during a non-episode.

To work around this problem, a team of international researchers at Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute worked on 29 different genomic studies, including over 100,000 samples from both migraine patients and control samples – the best way we think to study neurological disorders like migraines and epilepsy and understand it’s biology.

12 regions of migraine susceptibility were identified out of which:

  • 8 regions were found in/ near genes known to play a role in controlling brain circuitries;
  • 2 regions were associated with genes that are responsible for maintaining healthy brain tissue;
  • Some regions of susceptibility lay close to a network of genes sensitive to oxidative stress, a biochemical process that results in the dysfunction of cells.

According to Dr Gisela Terwindt, co-author from Leiden University Medical Centre, “This large scale method of studying over 100,000 samples of healthy and affected people means we can tease out the genes that are important suspects and follow them up in the lab.” (2)

Besides this, the team also identified an additional 134 genetic regions potentially related to migraine susceptibility though statistical evidence backing it were not very strong. However, there have been other studies that exhibit that these statistically weaker culprits can play an equal part in the underlying biology of a disease or

As per Dr Mark Daly, from the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, “Effective studies that give us biological or biochemical results and insights are essential if we are to fully get to grips with this debilitating condition. Pursuing these studies in even larger samples and with denser maps of biological markers will increase our power to determine the roots and triggers of this disabling disorder.” (3)


  1. Image credits: Human Head With DNA Structure; FreeDigitalPhotos.net;Victor Habbick; Web June 2013; http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/agree-terms.php?id=10073380
  2. Getting to Grips With Migraine: Researchers Identify Some of the Biological Roots of Migraine from Large-Scale Genome Study; Science Daily News; Web June 2013; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130623144952.htm
  3. Getting to grips with migraine; Cambridge Network; Web June 2013; http://www.cambridgenetwork.co.uk/news/getting-to-grips-with-migraine/

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No Sign Of Early Mental Deterioration In Migraineurs: Study


No Mental Deterioration In Elder Migraineurs Due To Repeated Episodes (1)

Neurological research for some time has shown that migraineurs are at an increased risk of developing vascular lesions in the brain and exhibit frequent changes in their cerebral white matter.

A recent study conducted by the University Hospital Graz, Austria took a look at the possibility that such striking change that occur in the migraineurs’ cerebral white matter was indeed going to lead to an earlier age-expected mental deterioration, at least for a significant percentage of the migraining population thus causing them compromising lifestyles and depending on care.

White matter makes up for a majority of brain mass in humans. It is a network of axons sheathed in white fat that renders conductivity of neural and electrical pulses. White matter is believed to be crucial for how the brain functions, for successful learning and for social behaviour.

The study took into its fold some 639 elderly with the average age of 74 years who had had some history of neurological conditions like migraines, cognitive or motor conditions and whose diagnosis was supported by an initial MRI scan and report. The assessment was carried out case by case on the basis of a comprehensive clinical, neuropsychological and functional protocol throughout the three year period. MRI scans were conducted at the start and at the end of the study. Both volume and extent of changes in the cerebral white matter was recorded.

The results showed that 16% of all subjects suffered from migraines out of which over 66% of migraineurs also experienced with aura; women were three times more likely than men in the same age group to suffer migraines though the severity and volume changes in brain were the same in both men and women.

According to leading author of the study, Prof Fazekas, “The welcome result of the study was this: We can say for elderly patients at least that their migraines do not increase the risk of vascular injuries in cerebral white matter. They are also not at risk of these pain attacks exacerbating vascular lesions in the brain.” (2)

However, in the follow-up examination after three years there was found to be no significant correlation between migraines and the progression of changes in white matter. No gender-specific differences were detected, either. In short, the assumed correlation between headaches and neurological changes was not confirmed. The correlation between migraines and changes in white matter is a specific phenomenon amongst affected younger people and presumably attributable to some other pathogenic mechanism.


  1. Image Credit: Photopin.com; Sticky note via Creative Commons; Web June 2013; http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4076/4883925774_fb796f0e6c.jpg
  2. Migraines Do Not Exacerbate Mental Deterioration; Medical News Today, MNT; Web June 2013; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/261713.php

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Migraines & Other Pains Express Themselves In Stressed Middle-Aged Women

Middle Age Migraine



Pain Symptoms Reveal Themselves Especially in Stressed Middle-Aged Women (1)

Turns out that stress is more than just a migraine trigger. If the recent study conducted by the University of Gothenburg, Sweden is to be believed then almost half the women who suffer from long-term stress will suffer from some pain symptoms, migraine being one of them. They may also suffer from frequent headaches and psychosomatic symptoms such as gastrointestinal disorders

The research done by the Sahlgrenska Academy pursued 1500 women from 1968. It noted that stress experienced by women was the highest between the years 40 and 60. It was also observed that the most stressed of these women were mainly those who smoked and/or those who were single.

The statistics revealed the following in the women who were stressed:

Category/Pain Type  Body Percentage
Psychosomatic symptoms Aches, Pains of muscles and joints


Neurological Migraines, (and headaches)


Gastrointestinal symptoms IBS, flatulence, bloating



 According to Dominique Hange from the Academy, “Even when the results have been adjusted for smoking, BMI and physical activity, we can see a clear link between perceived stress and an increased incidence of psychosomatic symptoms. Of course, since 1968, women’s lifestyles have changed in many ways. For example, many more women now work outside the home. Naturally, these changes can affect the experience of stress. But although we’ve used exactly the same question ever since 1968, we can’t take it for granted that the term ‘stress’ has exactly the same meaning today. It might also be more socially accepted today to acknowledge one’s experience of stress.” (2)

The more important conclusion of the study was that women who stay at home single and smoke were most vulnerable to stress and required the maximum need for preventative measures from both  primary healthcare and the society. This would go a long way to tackle stress-related illnesses among women starting when they are still young.



  1. Image Credits: FreeDigitalPhotos.net; David Castillo Dominici; Web June 2013; http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Emotions_g96-Screaming_Woman_p59454.html
  2. Physical Symptoms Often Manifest In Stressed Middle-Aged Women; Medical News Today; Web June 2013; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/261399.php


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New Biomarker Predicts The Severity Of A Migraine Episode

Biomarkers Migraine

Adiponectin Levels In Blood Signal Pain Severity In Migraines During An Attack (1)

Adiponectin is a protein hormone that is secreted by fat or adipose tissues into our bloodstream. It is known to modulate many metabolic processes (such as glucose flux, insulin sensitivity, fatty acid oxidation, weight loss, regulation of energy metabolism etc) as well as immunity and inflammation attributes. Adiponectin is also known to modulate several of the pain pathways implicated in migraines.

A recent small-scale study on migraineurs who had anything between 2-12 episodes a month, was conducted by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has now revealed that measuring the levels of adiponectin or ADP before a migraine treatment can tell which patients found relief from the debilitating pain. The study examined 20 women for a three-year period (2009-2012)

According to the associate professor of neurology and director of headache research at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, B. Lee Peterlin, D.O, “This study takes the first steps in identifying a potential biomarker for migraine that predicts treatment response and, we hope, can one day be used as a target for developing new and better migraine therapies.” (2)

The process included a taking blood samples of women (to check ADP levels) before giving them either a sumatriptan/naproxen or a placebo dosage and then re-drawing blood from them at half an hour, an hour and after two hours of the drug/placebo administration.

Levels of both types of ADP, viz Low Molecular Weight (or LMW, having anti-inflammatory properties) and High Molecular Weight (or HMW, having pro-inflammatory properties) were assessed.

The researchers found that higher LMW counts caused a decrease in pain for the migraineurs and a higher ratio of HMW: LMW caused pain aggravation. It was also noticed that patients who received a steady treatment for the migraine irrespective of the fact that they were being dosed with a drug or a placebo showed an overall decrease in the total ADP over a period of time.

In Peterlin’s view, should ADP (LMW and HMW) be proved to be a biomarker for migraine pain with larger scale studies, it would be very helpful for physicians to know which migraineur would benefit from which type of treatment and help them try out alternative drugs sooner than later.

The study was supported by a grant from GlaxoSmithKline and from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.


  1. Image Credits: FreeDigitalPhotos.Net; Victor Habbick; Web June 2013; http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/agree-terms.php
  2. Blood Levels of Fat Cell Hormone May Predict Severity of Migraines; ScienceDaily News; Web June 2013; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130318131205.htm

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