Migraining Women Likely To Develop Dementia: Study

Dementia Risk For Migraineurs

 

Migraineurs With Aura Are 48% More Likely To Develop Dementia In Later Life (1)

As if the sustained pounding, debilitating pain, the flurry of traumatic symptoms and ineffective medicines were not enough for migraineurs, studies are now showing that persons who suffer migraines with visual and other aura are 48% more likely to develop dementia as they begin to age than their healthier counterparts! (2)

In part this could be explained by the presence of white matter lesions that the brains of migraineurs are often seemed to have when scanned using an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging).

We know that white matter of the brain consists of nerve fibres (axons) and are surrounded by fat called myelin (3). The main function of the white matter is to transmit signals from one region of the cerebrum to another and between the cerebrum and lower brain centres. Lesions in the white matter interfere with signal transmissions. Damage to this white matter is a common significant factor observed in all those suffering from dementia.

Earlier control tests and those conducted at the Changhua Christian Hospital, Taiwan has already shown that migraineurs are at an exponential risk of diabetes and of developing hypertension, depression and cardiovascular diseases.

However, other studies have shown that the mental status of women with a history of migraine was no different from other women’s, so more research is needed.

SOURCES

  1. Image Credits: Dementia Disease And A Loss Of Brain Function And Memories As Al by David Castillo Dominici: FreeDigitalPhotos.net; Web November 2013; http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/dementia-disease-and-a-loss-of-brain-function-and-memories-as-al-photo-p173821
  2. Migraine may be linked to dementia; IOL Lifestyle; Web November 2013; http://www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/migraine-may-be-linked-to-dementia-1.1608597#.UoowF9JmiSo
  3. White matter of the brain; MedlinePlus; Web November 2013; http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002344.htm

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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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No Sign Of Early Mental Deterioration In Migraineurs: Study

Forgetful

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.

SOURCES:

  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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