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 www.migraines.org...