‘Silent stroke’ lurks for older migraine sufferers

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Miami, FL, United States (4E) – Older people with migraines are more prone to silent brain injuries and twice more likely to have “silent strokes” than those who do not suffer from migraines, according to a new study published in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke.

Researchers from the University of Miami, Columbia University and the Northern Manhattan Study (NOMAS) found that adults with migraines “had twice as many silent brain infarctions, compared with those without migraine, even after adjusting for other stroke-related factors.”

The study compared 104 multi-ethnic migraine sufferers patients with an average age of 71 from 442 participants without migraines. Hispanic and African-American participants were found to be more prone to strokes, the researchers found.

High blood pressure, which is a common trigger for stroke, was found in participants with migraine. However, the link between the occurrence of migraine and silent strokes was also seen in participants with normal blood pressure.

The findings led researchers to entertain the potential of preventive migraine treatments in reducing older migraine sufferers’ risks of having a stroke.

“We still don’t know if treatment for migraines will have an impact on stroke risk reduction,” Dr. Teshamae Monteith, lead researcher of the study and assistant professor of clinical neurology and chief of the Headache Division at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, told Medical News Today. “But it may be a good idea to seek treatment from a migraine specialist if your headaches are out of control.”

Monteith and her team plans to carry out further research to establish the link between migraine, stroke, gender and genetic predisposition, based on the preliminary results of the NOMAS study.

Various preventive treatment modalities are available to migraine and headache sufferers, although only three to 13 percent of them use such treatments, according to a 2007 study published on the Official Journal of the American Academy of Neurology. These underutilized treatment modes include anything from drugs for high blood pressure and anti-seizure medication to Botox injections and antidepressants.

Another known preventive remedy for migraines and headaches is heat or cold therapy. Cold therapy has been proven to effectively dull the pain in one’s forehead, temples and neck during a headache. Heat therapy, meanwhile, helps manage headaches by soothing sore muscles, thus improving blood circulation and promoting relaxation.

Heat and cold therapy is one of the most prevalent methods of relieving headaches because it can be done at home. The mass availability of heating and cooling pads, such as Thermal-Aid, CorPack and NexCare, also make it possible for headache sufferers to ease their headaches without popping pills.

Thermal-Aid packs, which can be heated in a microwave or cooled in a freezer, are made from corn kernels processed in such a way that it can hold temperatures evenly for long periods of time. It also eliminates mold, fungi and foul odors often associated with natural heating/cooling products.

It’s still best to consult a doctor, however, when headache and migraine symptoms are not getting better from heat and cold therapy.

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