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SCI/TECH: Migraine Headaches May Have Stroke Risk

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posted on Feb, 3 2005 @ 11:19 PM
In a study one thousand women, researcher Dr. Steven Kittner has found that visual anomalies associated with migraine headaches raises the risk of stroke. Wayne H. Giles of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautioned that transient ischemic attacks, or "mini-strokes," can also cause similar visual anomalies and that care must be taken to distinguish between the two. Regardless, Kittner advises that those who have migraines with visual effects should reduce behaviors associated with stroke, such as smoking, a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet.
Migraines, which are most common in young women, have long been considered a possible indicator of stroke risk. The latest research indicates that those who experience grayed or blacked-out vision are at almost double the risk of stroke. Those who see spots, lines or flashing lights for several minutes also had more risk.

Overall, women in this study who didn't have vision problems with their migraines were at no greater risk for stroke, although previous studies reached a different conclusion.

An estimated 24 million to 32 million Americans have migraines, and researchers have long been interested in examining the link between the two.

The latest research, based on a study of 1,000 women between ages 15 to 49, was presented Thursday at a meeting of the American Stroke Association by Dr. Steven Kittner, a neurology professor of at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and a researcher at the VA Medical Center in Baltimore.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

Well, I have migraines with visual anomalies and I have visual anomalies with headaches, that while painful, are less than what I usually associate with migraines. My ophthalmologist calls them ocular migraines. I hope they aren't TIAs. At any rate, those who have similar symptoms should probably speak with their doctors about this pattern and what should be done to reduce the risk of stroke.

Related News Links:

[edit on 05/2/4 by GradyPhilpott]

posted on Feb, 3 2005 @ 11:43 PM
Thanks very much Grady for the Information. My mother just had a Migrane very much like the one you describe, allthough it was the first one she's had since my family lived in Saudi it could be a precurser. I will mention this to her first thing in the mourning.

posted on Feb, 3 2005 @ 11:53 PM
It makes a lot of sense, considering what ti takes to cause migranes....
It's the swelling of the blood vessels in the brain.

posted on Feb, 4 2005 @ 12:02 AM
thanx for that migraine info. I'm a sufferer since I was a child & while I don't get visual problems, I do have light sensitive ( like most migraine sufferers ) & other issues. Since strokes are already in my family history, I'll be taking this article off to the next doctors visit & asking the question......& for a solution. Since I'm not in the high risk categories ( non smoker, active, good diet, etc ) I'm wondering what I should expect, if anything.

posted on Feb, 4 2005 @ 01:27 PM
Here is a statistic for you--27% of all strokes suffered by people under the age of 45 are caused by migraines. Ouch. The fact that migraines can cause stroke is lost on many people.

About 10 years ago, I started have the same types of migraines as Grady--visual auras for about 20 to 45 minutes, followed by migraines & sometimes by a milder headache. The migraines are pretty bad, but practically going blind unexpectedly is worse (my field of vision is dominated by a checkerboard pattern or sometimes images are just "scrambled.") This is extremely disorienting, especially when it happened on the street or in the subway, which led to anxiety attacks, making the situation much worse.

After years of being told by my primary care physician that my classical migraines were untreatable and resorting to just trying to kill the pain with a variety of migraine-specific drugs or Percocet--at one point almost three or four times a month--I've been nearly migraine free for almost two years. I finally went to a neurologist that deals specifically with migraines and he prescribed Topamax, which is an epilepsy drug that was just FDA approved for migraines.

It is critical that people who have migraines or think that they are suffering from a migraine seek out a doctor that specifically deals with headaches--typically not your family practicioner. This is how misdiagnoses or mis-treatment can occur. Many doctors are not aware of the risks associated with migraine headaches and describe them as a lifestyle issue rather than a potential life-threatening event. Also, many of the drugs that provide significant help have a tough side-effects profile that only a doctor with substantial experience with them will know how to manage.

In addition to the healthy lifestyle suggestions that Grady made, it is extremely important that women who have migraines think twice about taking birth control pills or hormone therapy as it increases the risk of stroke 8 times vs. the non-migraine population (according to a British Journal of Medicine study.) I didn't know this until I went to a migraine specialist.

Migraine sufferers should have regular check-ups. You should also keep notes about your migraines, like the dates, length of time, and characteristics. Any changes should be reported to your doctor--and don't be afraid to ask questions.

It is also important to note that any migraine that lasts more than 72 hours is an emergency. You should go to the emergency room immediately as the risk of stroke with longer term headaches is increased.

My favorite migraine sites are:

I used some of the statistics from

posted on Feb, 4 2005 @ 01:48 PM
Thank you for this information Grady! All my life I have had migraines with aura's (flashing lights) although the headache that came with them is generally very mild. I had no idea of the increased chance of stroke. I am also a smoke, you can bet I will be talking to my Dr. soon!

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