Silent stroke common among seniors suffering from migraine headaches

By: Devon Andre | Brain Function | Monday, November 28, 2016 - 12:00 PM

Portrait of a cute sad senior womanSilent strokes are more common among seniors suffering from migraine headaches. Silent strokes are symptomless brain injuries that are caused by blood clot interrupting blood flow to the brain.

Although previous research has identified migraines as a risk factor for stroke, researcher Dr. Teshamae Monteith explained that she does “not believe migraine sufferers should worry, as the risk of ischemic stroke in people with migraine is considered small.

However, those with migraine and vascular risk factors may want to pay even greater attention to lifestyle changes that can reduce stroke risk, such as exercising and eating a low-fat diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.

The study compared 104 people suffering from migraines to 442 participants without a migraine history.

After comparing MRI brain scans, the researchers found that migraine sufferers were twice as likely to suffer a silent stroke, even after adjusting for other stroke-related factors.

Furthermore, high blood pressure – another risk factor for stroke – was also found to be more prevalent in those with a migraine history, compared to non-sufferers.

Dr. Monteith added, “We still don’t know if treatment for migraines will have an impact on stroke risk reduction, but it may be a good idea to seek treatment from a migraine specialist if your headaches are out of control.”

Migraines in old age

Majority of migraine sufferers are under the age of 40 and generally speaking, the condition does improve with aging. Studies have shown that 40 percent of migraine sufferers experience improvement by the age of 65.

People rarely experience their first episode of migraine in later life – however, it is not impossible. Migraines that develop past the age of 60 are often a result of another medical condition.

Migraine symptoms can change throughout a sufferer’s life. For example, episodes of migraine auras without headache are more common among older adults. On the other hand, as sufferers age, pain from migraine headaches may become less severe.

Because seniors face a higher risk of developing other health conditions, there is a higher risk of developing migraines associated with these other ailments. Managing your overall health is important for reducing the risk of developing migraines. Addressing those other health conditions may reduce the risk, too.

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