Migraine headaches with auras may double the risk of stroke

By: Bel Marra Health | Brain Function | Tuesday, January 12, 2016 - 12:30 PM

Migraine headaches with auras may double the risk of strokeMigraine headaches with auras may double the risk of stroke as found in much research. An aura refers to feeling and symptoms experienced prior to the onset of a migraine headache – this is also called prodrome.

Although the exact cause of migraine headache auras are unknown, scientists believe that two common brain chemicals – serotonin and dopamine – may play a role. Some theories believe that something goes awry with serotonin and dopamine which causes the brain and the immune system to overreact. This can lead to an overflow of immune response cells to rush to the brain causing brain blood vessels to widen. The vessels then begin to open and contract thus causing the pounding sensation which you feel in your head.

Typical symptoms of a migraine include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Yawning
  • Irritability
  • Low blood pressure
  • Feeling hyper
  • Sensitivity to light, sound and motion
  • Dark circles under the eyes

When paired with aura, additional symptoms appear including:

  • Blind spots
  • Blindness in half or total visual field
  • Seeing zigzag patterns
  • Seeing flashing lights
  • Feeling prickly skin
  • Weakness
  • Hallucinations

Migraine aura treatment involves understanding any underlying health issues which you may have that can be causing migraine headaches with aura. Once you begin working with your doctor and they can determine the cause, they will then begin working on relieving symptoms and preventing future cases of migraine headaches with aura.

Symptoms of migraine headaches with aura may be minimized by staying in a dark quiet room, taking non-steroidal inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), placing cold compreses on your head, taking medications to relieve nausea and vomiting and taking any recommended prescription medications.

Migraine headaches with auras may increase risk of stroke

Migraine headaches with aurasPrevious research has found that migraine headaches with auras may double a person’s risk of stroke. This risk is tripled among migraine sufferers who smoke and the risk is seven times greater in migraine sufferers who smoke and who are taking oral contraceptives.

Nearly 85 percent of strokes are ischemic meaning they are caused by a blood clot in the brain. Researchers have outlined possible explanations as to why migraine headaches with aura may increase the risk of stroke which include:

  • Migraine sufferers generally have higher risk factors for cardiovascular disease
  • Specific genes may play a role in both migraines and stroke
  • Cortical spreading depression – a phenomenon in migraine headaches with aura – may trigger ischemic stroke

Researchers Drs. Michael Star and Jose Biller wrote, “Taking all of these possible explanations into account, the research may point to stroke and migraine sharing a reciprocal causal relationship. There is a significant amount of research attempting to further elucidate this multifaceted relationship.”

Although the precise link between stroke and migraine headaches with aura is not yet fully understand with further research, scientists and doctors can begin to better understand the relationship between the two conditions in order to find ways to better prevent both of them

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