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.”

Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in News | No Comments »

A New Fact About Migraines

Written by AnaLise on October 30, 2008 – 10:28 am -

I recently ran across some information that was a little surprising (but somehow made sense) regarding someone who suffered migraine headaches.  Sometimes, we find information that we don’t really expect.  In this particular case, the information shows how much migraine treatment and relief has changed and advanced.

It seems that the author of Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll, suffered from migraine headaches.  In fact, it is now thought that those migraines caused hallucinations, and all of this added up to the inspiration for the book that most of us have read ourselves and most of our children have read, too.

If you ever suffered from debilitating migraines, you can possibly imagine a man being tortured by severe headache pain along with the nausea, extreme sensitivity to light and the extreme sensitivity to noise. 

When people suffer from migraines, they are pretty much not up to doing anything. Their senses – especially sight, sound, smell and taste – are impaired during migraines, especially migraines with aura.  In addition to the other symptoms of migraine headaches, migraine aura can include seeing spots, feeling faint, seeing wavy lines and other symptoms.

Whether you believe that Lewis Carroll wrote Alice in Wonderland under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol or not, it is clear to most people that he was dealing with hallucinations.  If these hallucinations were brought on by migraine headaches, it is understandable how some of the situations described in the book came to be.

Those of us who have suffered migraines understand the feeling of falling down a hole – or wanting to – and other situations.  It is important, though, to make sure you seek medical attention for your migraines.  They can be connected to other serious health problems including stroke, heart disease, kidney disease and blindness.  If your doctor brushes you off or doesn’t take you seriously, find another doctor. 

Migraines can be fatal.  Make sure you do everything you can to treat them.

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in News | No Comments »

Managing Migraine Headaches

Written by AnaLise on October 30, 2008 – 10:24 am -

There are over 30 million migraine sufferers in the United States and about 65% of these individuals are women.  Researchers have determined that migraines are genetic – so the majority of migraine sufferers inherit these debilitating headaches through heredity.

If your parents and/or grandparents had migraines there is nearly a 60% chance that you will have migraines. This does not mean that you are doomed to a life of migraines without help or relief.

Besides heredity, there are other causes of migraines, such as environment and serious head and neck injuries. Dr. Merle Diamond says, “A person with migraines has a more sensitive nervous system, which is extremely impacted by changes in hormones, lack of sleep, skipping meals, red wine, smoke, stress or other triggers.”   Dr. Diamond of the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago also explains, “These triggers lead to changes in the brain, which turn on the brainstem, which dilates blood vessels and causes inflammation, which causes the pain.” 

Too many migraine sufferers try over-the-counter migraine medication only to find that they don’t usually help bring relief, they actually can make migraine headaches worse.  Some of the ingredients in over-the-counter medications are actually irritants when it comes to migraines.

This doesn’t mean that there is nothing to bring relief.  Unlike 20 years ago, these days there are many prescription medications that your doctor can prescribe specifically for migraine headaches.  There are other medication that can help an individual deal with stress and other issues that may be bringing on the headaches.

The most important thing a migraine sufferer can do is seek treatment through a doctor – especially one who specializes in this area.  Don’t be a hero and ignore your symptoms.  Not only could they get worse, they could also lead to a stroke.  In addition, migraines are connected to other cardiovascular issues.

Managing your migraines is not impossible.  It may take a little time to find the right treatment and/or meds, but once you and your doctor or chiropractor are able to determine a good plan to control your symptoms, the time you took to find a way to manage your migraines will be worth it.

Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in News | No Comments »

Facts You Should Know About Headaches

Written by AnaLise on October 9, 2008 – 3:23 pm -

If you suffer from chronic headaches or migraines there is help available.  The first line of defense should be your doctor.  If your doctor is unable to diagnose and treat your headaches successfully, there are doctors who specialize in the treatment of headaches especially migraines.

In addition to going to the doctors, there is other support available.  One organization that dispenses information and advocates for funding for headache research is the Alliance For Headache Disorder Advocacy (AHDA).    Most recently they have been strongly encouraging the National Institutes of Health to fund more studies as to the causes and treatment for migraines and other severe headaches.  Nearly 80% of all districts in the United States have at least one advocate receiving and sharing information with AHDA.

Some information from the AHDA website that they feel is important for you to know includes these points:

• Headache disorders cause more than 1 percent of all disability and 9 percent of all lost labor in the US every year.
• Migraine alone is the 12th most disabling disorder in the US.
• Headache disorders are the most prevalent neurological disorders, affecting more than 90% of all Americans.
• The US annual direct and indirect economic costs of headache disorders exceed $31 billion.
• The NIH expended less than $10 million in 2006 towards all research on headache disorders, comprising less than 0.05 percent of its total budget.
There are other important facts about headaches, but these are striking, since migraines have been a debilitating disorder for decades and have become extremely widespread.  In addition, migraines are often linked to other disorders and diseases including aneurism, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure and reactions to food, drinks and other substances, including medication.  They can also be signs of further disease and if untreated have been fatal in some cases.
If you suffer from migraines, find help and support.  If you need further information contact the AHDA at

Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in News | No Comments »

Migraines Linked to Blood Clots

Written by AnaLise on September 18, 2008 – 5:40 pm -

We have finally gotten to the place in society where more doctors and health professionals are acknowledging the fact that migraines are truly debilitating headaches, and they are now trying to do something about those headaches.

For many years people were basically told to take two aspirin…Well, you know the rest.  It was little comfort to hear that you could go home and grin and bear it, but there was no real relief.

There is more research and more relief these days, and more information to help in the understanding of migraine headaches.  For example, one important finding is that migraines are often linked to stroke. 

This is important information, but until recently, there was no actual information about how and why they were linked to stroke.  Recent information points to the fact that many people with migraines develop atherosclerosis more often and much sooner than people who do not suffer from migraines, and atherosclerosis is a major factor in strokes.  This information is in the process of being confirmed.

There is information that sheds light on migraines, blood clots and stroke.  A study of the medical records of individuals who suffered from migraines revealed that their records showed they had increased vein-related blood clots, such as deep vein thrombosis, DVT, and pulmonary embolism.  The incidence of these blood clots for people who suffered from migraines was much higher than in those who did not suffer from migraines.  The information is still being re-confirmed, but it is an exciting finding that could shed new light on prevention and treatment of migraines for some migraineurs. 

Studies during the past few years have shown links between migraines and stroke, as well as various mutations and genetic factors.  The current study showing the link with vein-related blood clots could tie migraine and stroke together with a cause, helping physicians find relief for their patients with migraines and lower their possibility of stroke at the same time.

Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in News | No Comments »

Types of Migraines You Don’t Always Hear About

Written by AnaLise on September 10, 2008 – 8:01 am -

Most of us have heard about or experienced a migraine headache in our lifetime.  We know about the nausea, the pounding pain in the head, the sensitivity to light and many of the other symptoms that can occur.  We know about lying down in a quiet dark room and taking whatever medication – usually prescribed by our physician – that will help.

What most of us don’t know about and have not heard about are types of migraines that don’t have the usual migraine symptoms and are not easily identified or diagnosed.

One type of migraine is called an abdominal migraine.  These migraines affect both children and adults and, rather than having severe headache, the symptoms are severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and is caused by changes in the levels of histamine and serotonin in the body.  The symptoms are decreased or eliminated by some of the common migraine prevention medications.

Other migraines don’t involve headaches at all, but involve symptoms from temporary blindness to stomach pain to temporary paralysis.  Since there are no actual tests for these migraines, they are often misdiagnosed as a virus, mini-stroke, epilepsy or even appendicitis.  It can be dangerous to diagnose and treat these migraines, as the wrong medication could be harmful, if not, fatal.

Basilar migraines are migraines that have severe dizziness, vomiting, ringing in the ears, diarrhea, slurred speech and fainting.  At least three of these symptoms occur together in Basilar migraines.  The symptoms last for an hour or so and are following by terrible throbbing headaches on both sides of the head that can last up to 72 hours.  These can be confused for epilepsy, and the patient should see a neurologist for treatment.  There are various medications available.

Hemiplegic migraine involves temporary paralysis and pins and needles on one side of the body including the face, arms and legs. There can be slurred speech, confusion and vision problems, and all of this is followed by the actual headache.  These can be confused with stroke or mini-stroke and medications can help, but typical triptans which are used for migraines should usually not be used to treat these migraines.

Retinal migraines involve temporary blindness in one eye or seeing spots along with or followed by the migraine headache.  Doctors do not understand this condition, but feel it is often linked to over-exercise or over exertion and can be mistaken for blood clots in the eye.

Status migraines are the same as migraines but differ in the fact that they last at least 72 hours or can last for weeks.  These migraines are often due to some of the painkillers used or may be happening because the migraine medications being used are not working well.  Changing medication can eliminate or greatly reduce these headaches.  These headaches, however, can be serious enough to require hospitalization.

The information regarding and identifying different types of migraines is important for all of us to know.  It can help us avoid pain and could even save our life or the life of someone we know.  If you experience any of these symptoms make sure to discuss them with your doctor and if they cannot figure out what the problem is, let them know about what you have learned here.

Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in News | No Comments »

Treating Migraines As a Serious Disorder

Written by AnaLise on August 28, 2008 – 4:11 pm -

Migraines are not just “women’s” headaches any more.  Where it used to be said that women who suffer from migraines are just “overreacting” or “being too dramatic”, migraines are now being taken much more seriously.

Studies have revealed that though a higher percentage of women experience migraines, men also experience them and they are just as debilitating.  Additional studies have identified migraines suffered by children and research is being conducted regarding the implications of all types of migraines suffered regardless of age or gender.

Studies in Pakistan have recently revealed that rather than being severe headaches, migraines are responsible for triggering “mini-strokes” in some sufferers.  These findings strongly suggest that rather than migraines being episodic, they are actually part of a larger, ongoing issue which progresses until the sufferer actually experiences a major stroke.

The link between migraines and stroke is especially strong for individuals who experience migraine aura which includes seeing light flashes, spots, or other symptoms that accompany the onset of a migraine. 

Neurologists worry that migraines are being treated as individual episodes rather than an ongoing chronic and progressive disorder.  As a result, these mini strokes are going unnoticed and untreated until they result in a major stroke.

Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City have determined that those at most risk for mini strokes are migraine sufferers who experience frequent migraines.  Women were also found to be more at risk than men.  Reducing the frequency of migraines can reduce the likelihood of strokes.

Since strokes are twice as likely in individuals who suffer from migraines than those who do not, it is important to find viable ways to control the amount and frequency of migraines suffered.  Studies suggest that isolating the muscles involved in migraines and treating them with Botox, thus freezing them and making them unable to contract, or, if necessary, removing them through surgery, can be one approach to help migraine sufferers avoid eventually experiencing a major stroke.  Other ways to treat or eliminate the problem are being explored. 

Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in News | No Comments »

New Link between Migraine and Stroke

Written by AnaLise on August 5, 2008 – 6:20 pm -

There is more research and newer information regarding migraine headaches and their causes and treatment as of late.  One of the latest studies has found a link between migraine headaches with aura and a particular gene, leading to a higher risk of stroke in many women.

The interesting part of this discovery is that researchers found that the same gene lowers the risk of migraines with aura.  If this sounds confusing, here is how it works. 

A migraine with aura is a migraine that comes on with an “aura” which includes flashing light and other visual disturbances.  This latest study has found that a particular gene MTHFR 677C keeps women from getting migraines with aura, however, if a woman has this gene and goes on to get migraines with aura anyway, her risk of having a stroke is higher than the average woman.

The study, through Harvard School of Medicine, watched 25,000 white women over 12 years, and found that 18% or 4,600 of them had migraines with aura, and of those, over 625 of the women had a cardiovascular issue such as a stroke.  When the researchers went back to see which of the women had the MTHFR 677C gene, they found that 11% of the women carried the gene.

If the gene is found alone, it does not seem to raise the risk of stroke, however in women who have a history of migraine with aura, the risk of stroke or other cardiovascular disease is raised by three times. 

Researchers are still trying to find the exact gene and figure out exactly what it does and whether it is the direct cause or an ancillary cause of stroke or other cardiovascular event.  Meanwhile, researchers recommend that women who have migraines with aura do not smoke and use alternatives to birth control pills. 

The bottom line is that if you are a woman who suffers from migraines with aura, it is important that you remain very careful about your health to avoid having a cardiovascular event or a stroke.

Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in News | No Comments »

Migraines Can Be Risk Factor or Warning of Stroke

Written by AnaLise on July 9, 2008 – 7:30 pm -

The number of strokes that people are having has gone up a great deal during the past decade or so.  Many strokes happen seemingly without warning, however, it is important to know the warning signs and symptoms of stroke, as these could help you prevent a stroke or lessen the impact of a stroke if you were to have one.  It is especially for women to know these signs because more women have strokes than men, and strokes in women account for more deaths than strokes in men.

Some risk factors for stroke are different than those for men and less talked about than major risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems, high cholesterol, smoking, lack of exercise, sedentary lifestyle and family history.  These are factors in both men and women. 

Factors that are more exclusive to women include taking birth control pills after age 35, which often raises the risk of stroke for a woman by 50%.  Another factor is pregnancy.  During pregnancy, there is a higher risk of stroke because during that time there is a higher blood volume and a higher risk of thrombosis which involves blood clots.

Another serious risk factor for stroke involves weight and triglycerides, especially in post-menopausal women.  It weight is too high or triglycerides are more than 128 mg/liter, a woman has over five times the risk of stroke as a postmenopausal woman without these issues.  In addition, women who have had more than one miscarriage usually have a higher incidence of blood clot issues, which can lead directly to stroke.  Heart defects which usually affect women more than men and are present in the form of mitral valve prolapse usually lead to strokes more often in women than men.

Last but not least Migraine Headaches are more common to women than to men, and are often directly linked to stroke.  It is important to take migraines seriously and to discuss them with your doctor, as with any and all of the risk factors listed above.

The good news about migraines is that there are effective medications available that can help get these debilitating headaches under control.  Many medications available today are not simply taken as a migraine forms and escalates.  There are medications that an individual takes to deal with prevention of migraines, and therefore, these medications are taken daily whether the person has a headache or not. 

It is important to discuss any of these issues with your doctor in advance.  Most often, especially with women, doctors do not bring these risk factors up, and when you have figured them out, it’s too late.  Don’t wait.  Talk to your doctor now.  Minimize your risk of stroke by addressing symptoms and controlling them.

Tags: , , , ,
Posted in News | No Comments »