Migraine Sufferers that are Old could have Silent Brain Injury

An interesting study appears in the May 2014 issue of Stroke titled “Migraine, White Matter Hyperintensities, and Subclinical Brain Infarction in a Diverse Community: The Northern Manhattan Study,” written by Teshamae Monteith and et. al exploring migraine headaches. The article finds that older migraine sufferers are more likely to have silent brain injury.

The study found that people who have a history of migraine headache had a double the chance likelihood of having ischemic silent brain infarction compared to those who did not suffer from migraine headache. A silent brain infarction is a type of brain injury that is mostly likely caused when a blood clot interrupts blow flow to brain tissue. These type of injuries occur without any symptoms and is believed to play a role in future strokes. The risk of this occurring is considered small; however, those with migraine risk factors may want to be extra careful and should consider lifestyle changes such as regular exercise and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Researchers from the Northern Manhattan Study, a collaborative investigation between the University of Miami and Columbia University, studied an ethnic group of older adults (average age 71 and 41% men) in New York. A total of 65% of those included were Hispanic. The researchers compared magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) results between 104 of those with a history of migraine and 442 of those without a history of migraine. The researchers found that silent brain infarctions doubled in those with migraine even after adjusting for other risk factors. There was no increase in white matter hyperintensities noted between those with and without migraine.

The researchers are interested to know if treating migraine could help patients down the road have a decrease of stroke risk.  Further studies would need to be conducted to explore this.

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