Migraine headaches – May Cause Strokes
Migraine with Aura May Cause Stroke
Migraine headaches can be quite debilitating and are now considered more dangerous when preceded by auras, as they may cause a stroke. A migraine is a neurological syndrome characterized by altered bodily perceptions, severe headaches, and nausea. Other symptoms include sound and light sensitivity. Also about 1/3 of migraine sufferers have migraines preceded by auras. An aura is kind of a warning symptom which includes flashes or light, blind spots or tingling in your arm or leg.
A typical migraine is unilateral and affects one half of your head and the pulsating can last from 4 to 72 hours. I had migraine headaches when I was younger with the aura, which was always a visual disturbance in my case, plus the pain always started in my right temple. Fortunately, I rarely get a migraine anymore and the medicine relieves it rather quickly.
Migraine with Aura
Different Types of Headaches
Migraine treatments usually include anti-nausea and analgesic drugs and medications. There is no cure but there are medications that help reduce the frequency and the severity of the headaches. There are several different types of headaches from tension, sinus, and fatigue, and there are cluster headaches which are very painful. With any of these headaches you are just looking for headache relief. Migraines usually begin in childhood or adolescence and are equally divided between boys and girls, but 75% of the adult patients are women.
Brain Electrical Impulses
Possible Causes of Migraines
The cause of migraines is unknown but there are some factors that may trigger a migraine – MedlinePlus medical encyclopedia:
- Allergic reactions
- Bright lights, loud noises, and certain odors or perfumes
- Physical or emotional stress
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Smoking or exposure to smoke
- Skipping meals
- Menstrual cycle fluctuations, birth control pills, hormone fluctuations during the menopause transition
- Tension headaches
- Foods containing tyamine (red wine, aged cheese, smoked fish, chicken livers, figs, and some beans), monosodium glutamate (MSG) or nitrates (like bacon, hot dogs, and salami)
- Other foods such as chocolate, nuts, peanut butter, avocado, banana, citrus, onions, dairy products, and fermented or pickled foods.
- Long exposures to light from computer screen, video screens, and TV
Blood Vessels Involved
Typical Migraine Symptoms
These are some of the typical symptoms as listed by Mayo Clinic:
- Moderate to severe pain, which may be confined to one side of the head or may affect both sides
- Head pain with a pulsating or throbbing quality
- Pain that worsens with physical activity
- Pain that interferes with your regular activities
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Sensitivity to light and sound
Some symptoms may linger after the headache, such as a mentally dull feeling like your thinking isn't clear, an increased need for sleep or neck pain. Keep a diary of the headaches and you might find some things that trigger your headaches, which may help to eliminate them from your life.
Types of Migraines
There are a number of medications that are now available for migraine treatment, and sometimes you have to try a couple before you find the right one for yourself. Some people do use over the counter drugs like Tylenol, Ibuprofen and anti-nausea medications, but I never found them to be helpful.
Some of the many migraine medications the doctor can prescribe, include some drugs in the Triptan family such as Axert, Frova, Maxalt, Imitrex and Zomig. There is also Ergots such as Cafergot, which has caffeine. Caffeine can sometimes stop a migraine if you can get a cup of coffee in you before the migraine gets a good start. I worked with a girl that used that method very effectively. Also there is Isometheptene (Midrin). Of course, your physician will discuss these options with you. I finally found Maxalt to the most effective for me.
There is also a natural migraine treatment that you may find on the internet. One I have heard about is feverfew, but there are some possible side effects and allergic reactions. I would always discuss anything I was going to take with my doctor. This hub is for information purposes only and not to recommend any particular treatment.
Migraine Headache Health Byte
New Study of People with Migraines with Auras
There are some new statistics that link migraines, particularly those with auras, to increased death from cardiovascular disease and hemorrhagic stroke, according to the findings of 2 large studies. The researchers do emphasize that the overall risk is still low. The results of the first study were published on August 25th in the Boston Medical Journal.
In the first study completed in Iceland, they assessed the impact migraine episodes in 18,725 men and women born between 1907 and 1935. The study cohort was part of the Reykjavik Study, which was started in 1967, by the Icelandic Heart Association to prospectively study cardiovascular disease in Iceland. Participants were followed for 40 years, until the end of 2007. Overall there were 10,358 deaths, 4,323 from cardiovascular disease and 6,035 from other causes.
After adjusting for baseline risk factors, age, and sex, the study found that people who had migraines with aura were at increased risk for all-causes of mortality, plus mortality from cardiovascular disease including strokes, compared with people with no headache. No increased risk was found for people with migraines without auras or people with regular headaches. The study also showed that women with migraines who had auras were at increased risk for mortality from non-cardiovascular disease
Second Study -Harvard
In the second study, done at Harvard Medical School, the group used data from the Woman’s Health Study to examine associations between migraines and migraines with auras and the risk for hemorrhagic stroke. The study included 27.860 woman 45 years or older who were free from stroke or other major diseases at that time. The women filled out questionnaires that asked specific questions about migraines and migraines with auras.
Overall, 5130 women (18%) reported having a history of migraine. Of this number, 3612 reported having a migraine in the previous year and were classified as having active migraine, and 40% of the women with active migraine reported having migraine with aura. During an average of 13.6 years of follow-up (377,711 patient years), 100 confirmed hemorrhagic strokes occurred. This study, which was only for women unlike the first study, showed a higher risk for hemorrhagic strokes.
What it all boils down to is the relative risk measure indicated about a 2-fold increased risk for an individual woman with migraine headache, with aura, which is actually very low. They can’t really tell a woman who has migraines with aura if she is any more likely to have a stroke or not at this time.
Really the bottom line is, if you are one of those women with migraines that have auras, be a little more conservative in treating risk factors, such as smoking, keep your blood pressure at a normal level, exercise, keep your weight at a normal level, and try to avoid stress. The best thing to do when you feel a migraine starting is take you medicine and lie down in a dark quiet room and hopefully it will pass quickly.
The copyright to this article is owned by Pamela Oglesby. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.
My Medical Hubs
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© 2010 Pamela Oglesby
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