Link Between Migraines, Strokes, Heart Attacks

Written by AnaLise on February 25, 2009 – 8:29 pm -

Researchers have examined whether a gene variant may affect the link between migraine and stroke or heart attacks. The study is published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

25,000 women who answered a questionnaire about their history of migraines and migraines with aura participated in the study. Aura is usually described as visual disturbances, such as flashing lights or geometric patterns. The women were tested for a genetic variant called the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) D/I polymorphism.

A total of 4,577 women reported a history of migraine and of those, 1,275 had migraine with aura. Twelve years after the start of the study, 625 strokes and heart attacks were reported.

There was no link found between the gene variant and migraine, migraine with aura, stroke or heart attacks. However, women who had migraine with aura and also were carriers of certain genotypes, called the DD and the DI genotypes, had double the risk of stroke and heart attacks. In contrast, women who had migraine with aura and were carriers of a third genotype, called the II genotype, were not at increased risk. The authors add the caution that this relationship was identified with very little information and must be tested in other studies to determine if it is real.

“The relationship among this gene variant, migraine, stroke and heart disease is extremely complex and has been the focus of numerous studies, and the results have been controversial,” according to study author Markus Schurks, MD, MSc, with the Division of Preventive Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “Getting to the bottom of whether there is a connection and why may help to develop ways to prevent issues like stroke and heart disease, which are leading causes of death in the United States.”

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Hormones and Migraines: Is There a Link?

Written by AnaLise on December 17, 2008 – 12:14 am -

Researchers have been looking for causes of migraine headaches for years, and they have found some solid causes.  They have also found that with the wide variety of migraine causes, they are all different and affect each migraine sufferer differently.  In addition, there seem to be more and more migraine causes discovered, and these are triggers for some migraine sufferers, yet don’t do a thing for others.  It seems to work like allergies – different people have different problems with different substances.

As for migraines, there is yet another trigger that is linked to them.  That trigger is hormones.  There has been ongoing discussion about whether or not hormones trigger migraine headaches, but there has been no true clear cut answer in the past. 

The latest information is that hormones are definitely linked to migraines in some women.  Usually the migraines occur just before, during or after ovulation or a woman’s monthly period.  The reason for this is that during those times there can be a drastic fluctuation in hormone levels. 

What can be done to help women who are dealing with this situation?  It’s bad enough just to have to deal with all these monthly issues without getting debilitating migraines in addition.  Researchers and physicians have an answer and an effective way to either eliminate or diminish these terrible headaches.  They suggest that migraine medication be prescribed to women so that the medication can be taken before the hormone fluctuations cause their migraines.

If you are a woman who is dealing with migraines that seem to be triggered by hormones on a regular basis, talk to your doctor and see if thre is medication that can bring you relief from at least the headaches that come with the rest of the monthly barrage of symptoms.

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Inventor Creates New Migraine Tool

Written by AnaLise on October 9, 2008 – 3:21 pm -

There have been thousands of ideas about how to stop migraine headaches – or at least make them bearable.  Some of these ideas work and some, of course, don’t work.  Sometimes, even the most outlandish of the ideas has the ability to help relieve the suffering from migraines.

There is a new tool being tested that seems to have the ability to actually stop a migraine headache before it completely starts.  Many migraine headaches start with what is called “aura” which is when a person feels light headed, sees spots or other visual disturbances.  This is what happened to Dr. Robert Fischell, who is also the inventor of the first implantable insulin pump, the rechargeable pacemaker and various coronary stents.

Dr. Fischell experienced an aura one day out of the blue.  He had never had anything like this happen before, and he says that it scared him to death because he thought he was about to have a stroke.  The interesting thing is that after the aura, nothing happened – there was no migraine that followed.  Nonetheless, it got Dr. Fischell thinking about what causes aura and migraines, and what can be done to stop the aura so that the migraine never materializes.

After extensive research, Dr. Fischell created a box that has two handles – one on each side.  When an aura happens it is because the brain is experiencing a neurological disturbance where the nerves misfire.  The occipital cortex, an area at the back of the head, is usually the area involved in the misfiring.  The box that Dr. Fischell created is placed at the back of the head, where the auras begin, and a trigger on the device emits two magnetic pulses 15 seconds apart.  This silences the nerve activity and shuts down the aura, thus stopping the migraine before it actually starts.

The device – called Neuralieve Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) –  has been tested on enough people that Dr. Fischell has applied to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be able to begin selling it as soon as early next year.

This is a huge advance toward the treatment of migraines.  Since it is non-invasive and involves no medication, there are definite plusses.  Of course, not all treatments work for all people.  The doctor is confident enough about the device that he is considering having people use it and if it doesn’t work for them, send it back and he will refund their money minus a small refurbishing fee. 

Hopefully he will get FDA approval and people will be able to try the device and see if there truly is a new and different way to eliminate migraines.

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Microsurgery for Migraines

Written by AnaLise on September 6, 2008 – 2:46 am -

Individuals who have suffered from migraines know how debilitating they can be.  The throbbing, the nausea, the sensitivity to light.  If you have ever felt the pain of a migraine, you know it is extreme.  Some people have described it as feeling like a hot knife is stabbing you in the head, feeling like a fireplace poker is lodged through your temple, feeling like a piece of steel is slicing through your eye, and other very uncomfortable sounding situations.

There are many triggers to migraines including various foods, beverages, lack of sleep or lack of good sleep, increased stress and muscular difficulty.  Some of the treatments have involved biofeedback, vitamins, herbs, massage, stress relief, acupressure, acupuncture, chiropractic care and more.  Some of these treatments help some of the people some of the time. 

In addition to these treatments, there are a variety of medications available today that attack various symptoms and causes of migraines.  Some of the medications are available without prescription and others require prescriptions.  Prescription medication for migraines is often quite expensive and out of reach for many individuals.

There is a new breakthrough for migraines that does not involve any of these other treatments.  The breakthrough is a unique surgery that is only being performed by a handful of surgeons. 

The microsurgery which is performed similar to plastic surgery is performed to take the pressure off a particular nerve in the head that when pinched causes migraines.  The procedure involves cutting part of the muscle that pinches the nerve, thus eliminating the pressure.  After surgery, which decompresses the nerve, the nerve should regenerate itself and should not respond to headaches after healing. 

The procedure works for 80% of the people who have it done, according to Georgetown University Washington Hospital.  In the individuals where the procedure does not work, a subsequent surgery can be performed to remove the nerve completely. 

There are specific symptoms necessary for individuals to have the surgery.  Also, surgery is no small feat.  This is a procedure for when you are at the point where you have tried other treatments that have not worked and you are still having migraines on a regular basis.  If you are in this situation, however, it is good news to know that there is help and relief available.

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Migraines Could be Relieved by Oxygen

Written by AnaLise on July 24, 2008 – 6:04 pm -

There have been numerous discoveries during the past two decades regarding the causes and treatments of migraines.  Both are as widely varied as the people who suffer from them.  The interesting facts involving both the causes and the treatments of migraines is that even though there is not specific information that works somewhat across-the-board for most people in general, there are a couple of classes of medication that work well for diminishing or eliminating the symptoms of many migraines in many people.  Many of these medications are similar, and most of them work quickly if taken at the onset of a migraine.

Now there is a good chance that there is something else to add to your arsenal against migraine suffering.  The new anti-migraine defense is Oxygen.  Yes, you heard right.  This is good news – especially for individuals who prefer not to take prescription drugs or other medications if at all possible.

The scoop on oxygen is that there are two types of oxygen therapy that could help treat migraine headaches.  One type of oxygen therapy involves patients inhaling pure oxygen at normal room pressure.  The other type of oxygen therapy involves patients inhaling the oil in a hyper baric chamber under high pressure. 

It has been determined that oxygen therapy – especially in a hyper baric chamber – helps many migraine sufferers within 15 minutes of starting the treatment.  At normal room pressure, oxygen took about 45 minutes to work.  This same is true of cluster headache, though the symptoms of cluster headaches seem to be eliminated with oxygen therapy sooner than migraines.

Researchers feel that most of the time, doctors will use oxygen at normal room pressure due to the fact that most doctors don’t keep hyper baric chambers in their offices and there aren’t that many of the chambers available.

It should make migraine sufferers breathe easier to know that they may be able to tame the symptoms of their migraines with just plain, pure oxygen.

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