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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Canadian Website Helps Warn of Migraines, Arthritis and More

Written by AnaLise on February 25, 2009 – 7:56 pm -

We have all heard someone make a comment like, “It must be going to rain because my bones are aching” or “I think we’re in for a cold spell because my back injury hurts.”

If you happen to live in Canada, there is a new website that can help you prepare in advance. Created by a doctor and a meteorologist who is one of the doctor’s patients, MediClim is a website where you can sign up if you suffer from migraines, arthritis or other conditions that seem to worsen with weather changes.

By signing up on the website you will automatically be sent an email 24 hours in advance of a weather change that could exacerbate your symptoms. This way you would have time to be prepared with medication or other remedies you might need to keep your symptoms under control.

Doctors and researchers have found that individuals who suffer from migraines have difficulties with sudden cold snaps or heat waves that come on relatively suddenly. By being warned in advanced they will know to stay inside in a controlled temperature and environment.

The email service on MediClim does not give advice, but gives warning and suggests you talk to your own doctor to see what thsy feel you should do in advance to keep symptoms at bay and under control. Rather than leaving you in pain without warning.

MediClim is free and is currently available in Canada, The United States, The U.K. and several other countries. It will be expanding in 2009.

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Helping Migraines By Closing a Heart Hole

Written by AnaLise on February 19, 2009 – 9:19 pm -

There is a common heart abnormality known as a patent foramen ovale (PFO).  This is a small hole in the heart and researchers have been studying this hole for may years.  One thing they found about the PTO is that those who have this  hole and need it closed have a positive side effect:  when the hole is closed the individual no longer gets continuous migraine headaches.

But a researcher who has studied the issue for almost a decade tells WebMD that the jury is still out on the treatment.

In the new study, patients with PFOs who had a minimally invasive catheter-based procedure to close the small hole in their heart had significantly fewer disabling migraines than patients with PFOs who did not have the procedure.  As many as one in four people have a PFO abnormality, but most never know it.

Prior to birth, everyone has the small opening, which exists to divert blood away from undeveloped lungs. Normally, the hole closes after birth, but in some people the closure is not complete.

While not everyone with PFOs has migraines and not everyone with migraines has PFOs, studies show that migraine sufferers are far more likely to have the heart abnormality than people without migraines.

PFO researcher Peter Wilmshurst, MB, of the UK’s Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, tells WebMD that about half of patients with a specific type of migraine known as migraine with aura have large PFOs or similar openings in their hearts compared to about 5% of the population at large.

Wilmshurst did not participate in the new study, but he was involved in an earlier study that examined PFO closure as a treatment for migraines. Published last year, that study, known as the MIST trial, found no benefit for the treatment.

The new study included 82 migraine patients who had large PFOs and no history of strokes. All the patients also had a type of brain lesion that is commonly seen in brain scans of patients with migraines.

Fifty-three of the patients had the PFO closure procedure and 29 did not.

At six months follow-up, the PFO closure patients showed significant improvements in both the frequency and severity of their migraine headaches.

In all, 53% of patients in the PFO closure group reported a disappearance of disabling headaches, compared to 7% of the patients who did not have the closure procedure; 87% in the closure group reported a more than 50% reduction in total headaches, compared to 21% of the patients in the comparison group.

The study appears in the Feb. 24 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

“Only patients in the closure group reported a significant reduction of migraine severity, which is crucial for quality of life,” study researcher Carlo Vigna, MD, and colleagues write. “In contrast, the number of disabling attacks did not change or increased in 41% of controls.”

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Connection Between Migraines and Abdominal Fat

Written by AnaLise on February 19, 2009 – 8:48 pm -

There have been studies of every type trying to find the causes of migraine headaches. The studies have been being conducted for years and have discussed and involved everything from food to medicaion to sleep and excercise – and how all of these things interact wth the body to create or trigger migraines.

One of the most current migraine studies has taken a close look at fat around the middle of the body and how it might be triggering migraine headaches. The study shows that overweight people between the ages of 20 and 55 who are overweight – especially around the middle of the body – have a higher risk of experiencing migraine headaches.

Over 22,000 individuals who were part of the research and who were overweight, were asked if they had migraine headaches. In the age range between 20 and 55, those individuals who had larger waistlines also experienced many more migraine headaches than the people of the same ages but with smaller waistlines.

To measure obesity, measurements were taken by circumference and total body obesity. This was calculated by using a person’s Body Mass Index (BMI) using weight and height.

Thirty seven percent of women between 20 and 55 with excessive abdominal fat reported getting regular migraines compared to 29% of those without excessive abdominal fat. As for men in the same situation, 20% with excess abdominal fat reported regular migraines vs. only 16% of those without excessive abdominal fat reporting migraines.

These results strongly suggest that it would be helpful for those men and women who have excess abdominal fat and get migraines to try to lose weight, thereby eliminating the number and the severity of migraines they experience. If you find yourself in this situation, trying to lose some weight might be your greatest source of relief.

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The Heavy Burden of Migraines

Written by AnaLise on February 12, 2009 – 1:40 am -

It wasn’t too long ago when doctors and other healthcare professionals thought of migraine headaches as an inconvenience rather than a serious healh issue. In the 1990’s research yielded various medications and other treatment for migraines. They realized that it was important to catch migraines before they turned into full-blown debilitating headaches. If medicine could ease the symptoms of a migraine, then for some people the migrine would disappear. For others, the migraine might not disappear completely, but there would be relief.

There are the usual home remedies a person can use to help relieve the symptoms. These include various herbs and spices, ice packs. accupressure and more. Other treatments include chiropractic care, accupuncture and lying down in a dark, quiet room.

In addition there are those prescription meds. Prescription meds for migraines have become better and better. Many of the meds have improved during the last few years. Some meds that took an hour or more to start working in the past now take 10 or 15 minutes to start turning the syptoms around and stopping them.

Researchers have started the process of putting together the figures showing how much money could be saved in many ways if migraies were diminished or eliminated. When an individual gets a severe migraine and has to miss work, it costs the employee part of their paycheck and it costs the employer time and money to get the work done or to get it caught up. In addition, there are doctor’s expenses.

There is continuous research being done to try to find adequate medication and treatment for migraines. Having suffered from migraines myself, I know that treatment is getting better because my migraine episodes are fewer and further between. Hopefully this is happening in your case, too or it will be soon.

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Migraine Health Insurance Coverage – Is It Out There?

Written by AnaLise on February 12, 2009 – 12:55 am -

Health insurance coverage is getting harder and harder to purchase. Premiums are out of control – they often cost a week’s pay or more, especially if you have a spouse and kids to be insured. While the list of the “not covered” or “just barely covered” is growing, the other list – of things that most people feel are necessary when it comes to health coverage – is dwindling. Add to that the fact that many of us can’t afford monthly premiums because they have skyrocketed which leaves too many of us too vulnerable for too many conditions that need to be treated.

One of the latest casualties when it comes to insurance limitations is migraine headaches. Years ago, there was much to be learned about migraines, so these debilitating headaches were treated with various forms of pain medication and/or tranquilizers and muscle relaxers.

During the 80’s and 90’s newer prescription medications were developed specifically for the treatment, control and relief of migraines. Sometimes they were used alone and sometimes in combination with pain medication and other medications. The good news is that now in the 21st century numerous medications specifically for migraines have been developed and are available to migraine sufferers in many places throughout the U.S. and beyond. The bad news is that many of these medications cost an arm and a leg and are covered in only a limited amount or not covered at all by heath insurance

Some migraine sufferers are limited to ten or twelve pills per month by their health insurance, and, as a result, they have to choose which migraines to use one of their precious pills on, even though they should really be using this medication on every migraine they have. If they run out of pills during the month and have to re-order, the insurance won’t help, so it becomes an out-of-pocket expense. The expense for some of these medications is astonishing and migraine sufferers simply can’t afford to pay for them so they continue to suffer, even though they faithfully pay their insurance premiums. Migraines are often symptoms of other health issues. They can easily lead to a stroke. What if that happens the night they can’t or don’t take their medicine?

For those, like a friend of mine, who can’t afford insurance there can be Medicaid. If you fill out enough papers, don’t make one cent over Medicaid’s limits and can figure out a way to get approved for Medicaid, you could have insurance to help you with doctor visits and prescriptions. You must, however, be vigilant or you could lose coverage in the blink of an eye because you didn’t make a particular phone call to Medicaid, didn’t send in some

It is unfortunate that now that the medicines have been invented and are available, the insurance companies make it difficult, if not impossible, to get the medications they need. Are migraine sufferers just the latest casualty of insurance cuts or will something be done to get better coverage to help migraine sufferers get the medication they need? The new congress is looking very closely at these questions and more. Hopefully there will be some answers soon.

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Migraines and Mold

Written by AnaLise on February 4, 2009 – 5:43 am -

Everyone in the family has gotten better and stayed better. We know now to look for mold and if we end up with the same symptoms in the future, we will check for mold by having the house inspected before we do anything else.  There is no doubt that mold in a home is not a good thing to live with. In fact, depending on the type and amount of mold, there is danger from living with it. Mold can make people sick and it can also be fatal.

I speak from experience. Our family moved into a house that had mold in it, but we weren’t aware of this. The previous occupants knew about it and didn’t disclose. Several members of the previous family that occupied the house were ill a lot with headaches, weakness, breathing problems and more. Once they moved out, the symptoms disappeared.

On the other hand, once we moved into the house, one member of our family got migraines almost daily. Another member had breathing problems, and though their asthma had done so well that they no longer took medicine, they had to go back on an inhaler. The worst case was one family member that began and continued having migraines, had fevers and chills, and could barely breathe. In fact, she was so weak; she could barely walk fro her bed to her bathroom, which is in her room under 10 feet from the bed.

The individual who had this difficult time continued to get worse. Once we had to go out of town for a business meeting. When we were away from the moldy home none of the family had any symptoms – especially no migraines or breathing problems.

We had the house inspected for anything toxic and the inspector found a lot of mold – including black mold which is the most harmful. We were told to move immediately. The rest of the family moved into another house to see what would happen to their symptoms. Within two days, most of the symptoms disappeared.

There a stories similar to our family’s. We were fortunate that we were able to move and through anti bacterial prescription medication, asthma medication and leaving (throwing out) many clothes, a lot of furniture and other items that could possibly be contaminated we avoided bringing the mold to the new house.

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Are Migraines and Fluorescent Lights Linked?

Written by AnaLise on February 4, 2009 – 5:38 am -

Migraines affect many millions of people. They are triggered by any number of things from various foods and wine to stress. Now a new culprit may be added to the list. The new culprit is fluorescent lights.

Researchers have been studying the reactions that fluorescent lights cause. Because the lights flicker constantly, many people claim that the flickering causes them to have headaches. Old fluorescent bulbs used to flicker about 60 times per second which scientists say was perceptible. However, new and current fluorescent bulbs flicker around 10,000 times per second, which some researchers feel the eyes and brain cannot decipher. The individuals who work in offices or other areas that use fluorescent lights and have never had headaches or migraines before they have had to work with these lights definitely disagree with the scientists and researchers who discount or simply deny the fact that migraines are triggered by these lights.

Some researchers who aren’t so sure that fluorescent lights actually trigger migraines, however, the people who are suffering from migraines after sitting under flickering fluorescent lights for several hours are sure they trigger migraines. Some researchers feel that the brain cannot detect the flickering because it happens quite quickly. Again, the people getting migraines feel quite differently.

In addition to migraines, people have reported nausea, dizziness, loss of concentration, weakness, plus joint and muscle pain. Also, some of these individuals get migraines from cell phones, television, computer monitors and other electronics that give off “electromagnetic waves”. Some who believe in the existence of this curious phenomenon even offer a rationale for the effect, usually explaining that our nervous system functions based on electrical impulses and that it is therefore susceptible to the effects of external electromagnetic fields.

If you suffer from migraines and you think they are electromagnetic – emanating from fluorescent lights, cell phones or other electronics, you are not alone, and there is research currently being conducted to figure the situation out and to find a way to stop the trigger.

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