Migraines Could Lead To White Matter Damage In Brain: New Study

Migraine photo

Abnormalities are common in the signal-sending white matter of migraineurs with aura (1)

A recent analysis of some 19 medical studies put together on migraineurs point that permanent changes likely occur in the brain of those who suffer from migraines and particularly those among them who experience aura – visual or otherwise, before the onset of an attack.

The analysis which was published online in the latest Journal of Neurology concluded that migraineurs with aura were almost two times as likely to have anamolies/abnormalities in the brain structure as those who do not suffer from migraines.

MRIs clearly show white-matter blips and other tissue changes in the migraineurs brain images but how exactly do these neurological variances translate to significant imagery correlate or give a prognosis of progressive deterioration is yet to be seen.

According to Dr. Richard B. Lipton, a neurologist who heads the Montefiore Headache Center in the Bronx, N.Y. “Part of the message I hope to communicate here is: If you have migraine with aura and you have white-matter lesions, they’re probably not a cause of concern.”  (2) However he noted that migraineurs with aura have twice the risk of getting a stroke than non-aura migraineurs

The 19 medical study analysis said the occurrence of tiny lesions that imitate scars left from strokes in aura migraineurs have left them inconclusive because there was no significant evidence of cognitive decline or other neurological symptoms from such lesions or other white-matter anomalies.

In addition, Dr Lipton said that it was good to follow the ‘you never know’ strategy,  further saying, “If you have migraine with aura, certainly you shouldn’t smoke,. Certainly, if you are going to use oral contraceptives, you should use the lowest possible hormonal dose. If you have other stroke risk factors such as hypertension or diabetes or high cholesterol, it becomes particularly important to manage those risk factors.” (2)

What was found to be more disturbing was the uncertainty that surrounds the direction of the correlations. This especially so because it puts forth the reverse question on the table : Is it that the peculiar white-matter phenomena of aura migraineurs on MRI images is what makes for a migraine-prone brain? That is, are the brains of migraine patients different to begin with?

SOURCE:

  1. Image Credits: Sad Middle Aged Woman Suffering From Headache; StockImages; FreeDigitialPhotos.net; Web August 2103; http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Emotions_g96-Sad_Middle_Aged_Woman_Suffering_From_Headache_p150766.html
  2. Migraine could be associated with brain damage, study warns; Los Angeles Times; Web August 2013; http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-migraine-brain-damage-20130828,0,7497521.story

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