Danger Of Ischemic Stroke In Older Migraineurs

stroke_isc_web Older Migraineurs Have Higher Chances Of Suffering Silent Brain Injuries – (1)

A new study published in the May 15th issue of American Heart and Stroke Association’s medical journal Stroke, suggests that older migraineurs have an double the risk of suffering from silent brain injuries and ischemic stroke than those who do not experience migraines.

Silent strokes can be asymptomatic i.e they do not show symptoms but increase the risk of future strokes. Silent stroke or a silent brain infarction is caused by a blood clot getting into the brain artery and thus interrupting the supply of blood, oxygen and nutrients to brain tissue surrounding the clot thus killing it.

As per Teshamae Monteith, M.D., lead author of the study, “I do not believe migraine sufferers should worry, as the risk of ischemic stroke in people with migraine is considered small. However, those with migraine and vascular risk factors may want to pay even greater attention to lifestyle changes that can reduce stroke risk, such as exercising and eating a low-fat diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.” (2)

He raised caution that if an older migraineurs had other coexisting conditions like a high blood pressure (hypertension) or a sedentary lifestyle, it would add to the risk factor for suffering silent strokes and brain damage. He thus advised them to take medication to address hypertension and to bring it under control.

The study was a research on diverse ethnic groups including people of Hispanic and African origin. It was a collaborative investigation conducted by University of Miami and Columbia University.

Some of the highlights of the study were as follows: (3)

  • Approximate 40% of the population studied comprised of men.
  • The average age of the population was around 71 years old.
  • 65% of the population under study was of Hispanic origin.
  • Of the 546 studied, 104 had a history of migraines.

Some conclusions arrived at were as:

  • Risk of silent brain infarctions in those with migraine double even after adjusting other stroke risk factors.
  • Migraines with aura were not a deciding factor in measuring risk of silent strokes.
  • No real increase in the volume of white matter/ Small blood vessel anamolies was associated with migraines.
  • Some lesions came across in radiographic images as having ischemic origins but more research was required to confirm this.

According to Monteith, “We still don’t know if treatment for migraines will have an impact on stroke risk reduction, but it may be a good idea to seek treatment from a migraine specialist if your headaches are out of control. (4)

Previous studies indicated migraine could be an important stroke risk factor for younger people.

SOURCES:

  1. Image Credit: Ischemic stroke; Heart & Stroke Foundation – Canada; Web May 2014; http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/c.ikIQLcMWJtE/b.3484151/k.7916/Stroke__Ischemic_stroke.htm
  2. Older migraine sufferers may have more silent brain injury; Science Daily News; Web May 2014; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140515163826.htm
  3. Abstract of the study can be accessed at: http://stroke.ahajournals.org/content/early/2014/05/15/STROKEAHA.114.005447.abstract
  4. Older people with migraines ‘more likely to have silent brain injury’; Medical News Today; Web May 2014; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/276842.php

Details of the study published in AHA journal, Stroke: http://stroke.ahajournals.org/content/early/2014/05/15/STROKEAHA.114.005447.full.pdf+html

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Co-morbidity of Migraine and Depression In Women

Most of us are aware that migraineurs have some comorbid conditions like generalised anxiety disorder, cardiovascular conditions and gastrointestinal disturbances. Research now has it that migraineurs especially women who have either experienced repeated episodes of migraines in the past or continue to have migraines are more likely to experience depression.

Women Migraineurs Very Likely To Develop Depression (1)

In fact another report goes on to suggest that the most ‘important’ comorbidity of migraines is depression with as many as 40% of all migraineurs also suffer from forms of depression. (2)

New research released on 23rd of February which was presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 64th Annual Meeting showed that migraining women specifically had a higher risk of almost double for developing depression than those women who did not experience migraines.

This study had examined the medical history of 36,154 women participants. The whole population studied were classified into 4 groups:

  • Women with migraines and experiencing aura
  • Women with migraines who do not experience aura
  • Women who had suffered migraines in the past but have not in the last one year
  • Women who never had migraines

It was observed after collection and analysis of data that as many as 18% of the studied population had either current or past history of migraines and that of this group of 6, 456 women almost half of them developed depression 14 years on.

Another observation of note was that the results in terms of the probability of developing depression for women migraineurs remains almost same regardless of the type of migraines they experience (i.e. with or without visual aura)

The results did not vary substantially, regardless of the type of migraine. Those with aura, which is described as visual disturbances that appear as flashing lights, zigzag lines or a temporary loss of vision, had the same risks as other types of migraine.

According to Tobias Kurth, MD, ScD, with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and Inserm in France and a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, “This is one of the first large studies to examine the association between migraine and the development of depression over time. We hope our findings will encourage doctors to speak to their migraine patients about the risk of depression and potential ways to prevent depression.” (3)

This is a cue to doctors and headache specialists who treat migraineurs for assessing the patient for possible symptoms of depression and chalking out an appropriate management program for them.

SOURCES:

  1. Image by David Castillo Dominici; Freedigitalphotos.net; February 2012; http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=3062
  2. Comorbidities of Migraine – Page 4; Lisa K Mannix, MD; February 2012; http://www.headaches.org/pdf/CME_Mono02.pdf
  3. Migraine Increases Risk Of Depression In Women; Medical News Today; February 2012; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/242091.php

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