Migraineurs with Aura Double the Risk of Stroke…and more… (1)
A study conducted by the senior neurologists at the Loyola University Medical Center has put forth its findings that:
- People who experience migraines with auras are at roughly double the risk of ischemic strokes.
- The study also arrived at the shocking conclusion that such migraineurs as those who smoke were thrice as likely to have stroke in their lives.
- Migraineurs who smoked and used birth control pills were 7 times more likely to suffer strokes.
- Migraines also pegged a person’s risk of heart attacks and arterial claudication – a condition that causes poor circulation of blood in the legs and limb extremes causing pain.
The conclusion was put out after the results several independent studies were analysed. This meta-analysis has brought out the direct link between migraines and stroke risk. This and similar other studies have been discussed by lead neurologists Dr. Michael Star and Jose Biller M.D at the Loyola Medical Center in the chapter Headache and Migraine Biology and Management.
As per Drs. Star and Biller, “Taking all of these possible explanations into account, the research may point to stroke and migraine sharing a reciprocal causal relationship.” (2) Ischemic strokes or brain attacks cause brain cell death by the limiting or totally stopping the supply of blood to certain brain tissues. Most often an ischemic stroke can be caused by thrombosis or the obstruction of blood vessel by a blood clot forming locally. Almost 85% of all strokes are of ischemic nature (thus making them the most common types of stroke). Some evidence also exists showing a link between migraines and hemorrhagic strokes. Hemorrhagic strokes are caused by rupture of blood vessels of the brain and are considered the more deadly of stroke types.
So far the biology that exists and underlies the relationship between migraines with aura and strokes has been sketchy and poorly defined at best. According to the neurologists, “There is a significant amount of research attempting to further elucidate this multifaceted relationship.” (3)
Through these studies the researchers have proposed several explanations that could explain the linkage between migraines with aura and stroke occurrence:
- Increased risk of cardiovascular diseases in migraineurs
- Low levels of HDL or good cholesterol in migraineurs
- High levels of c-reactive protein
- Presence of specific genes that predispose them to migraines and strokes
- Consumption of certain medications that pegs the migraineurs risk of stroke
- A phase-phenomenon that occurs in migraine attacks called cortical spreading depression during which strokes occur. During this phase there occurs a slowly propagated wave of depolarization, followed by depression of brain activity setting into motion changes in neural and vascular function.
1. Woman Having Headache At Home; Stock Photos; Image by Marin; Web April 2015; http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/woman-having-headache-at-home-photo-p173634
2. People who suffer migraine headaches may be at double the risk of stroke; Science Daily News; Web April 2015; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150324111326.htm
3. People who suffer migraine headaches may be at double the risk of stroke; Loyola Medicine – Newswire; Web April 2015; http://www.loyolamedicine.org/newswire/news/people-who-suffer-migraine-headaches-may-be-double-risk-stroke
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