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Migraine and the Risk for Stroke
10 Nov. 2015

strokeMigraine is a rather common chronic neurologic disorder which is often inherited. Migraine can be a real disaster for those who are suffering from it. It deprives a person of the ability to move, function and even think. Its symptoms are so severe and evident that it’s near to impossible to confuse migraine with a simple headache. And, in spite of it being the most common type of headache, it still remains untreatable. Even provided that the treatment is 100% right for the patient, it still cannot cure the disorder, it can only help relieve the signs of migraine for a certain period of time.

In recent years another migraine-related issue has drawn the attention of researchers – is migraine a risk factor for stroke? This issue has become the basis for numerous studies all over the world. And there is a good reason for that. The results of epidemiological studies suggest that there is a link between migraine and stroke. This link can be considered in three aspects:

• Ischemic stroke due to some other causes associated with migraine;
• Ischemic stroke with the symptoms that resemble migraine with aura but caused by some other factors;
• Ischemic stroke occurred during an attack of migraine with aura, which is actually a migrainous stroke.

The association between stroke and migraine with aura is not fully understood yet, researchers suggest that the reduced flow of blood to the brain which often accompanies migraine can increase the risk for strokes. In addition, some migraine sufferers can have higher tendency for blood clots.

Increase risk of stroke in females under the age of 45 years who suffer from migraine with aura has been investigated in several studies. Results of the study conducted in Europe (it involved women between the ages 20-44) show that the presence of migraine in the past medical history increased the risk for ischemic stroke by 3.5 times, although it didn’t affect the risk for hemorrhagic stroke. The same study found out that the combination of migraine with other risk factors like taking birth control pills, migraine with aurasmoking or having hypertension increased risk for ischemic stroke as well.

Doctors who specialize in migraine headaches say that those who suffer from migraines with aura do have increased risk for stroke and are more likely to develop heart disease, but it doesn’t mean that they will inevitably fall victim to these diseases. This group of patients can reduce the risk by eliminating other risk factors – they should quit smoking, get enough physical activity, control their blood pressure and weight.

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