What Is A Stroke
A stroke or “brain attack” occurs when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked, leaks, or bursts. This deprives brain cells of oxygen and they begin to die. The part of the body controlled by the damaged area of the brain loses function. A small stroke may only cause minor problems or temporary weakness or memory loss. A larger stroke can cause permanent paralysis or loss of ability to speak or in some individuals, death.
There are two main types of stroke:
- Hemorrhagic stroke happens when a blood vessel leaks or bursts and there is bleeding into the brain tissue.
- Ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel is blocked by a blood clot in the brain.
- A mini-stroke is a type of ischemic stroke in which there is only temporary blockage of a blood vessel in the brain. Mini-stroke symptoms and signs only last a few minutes however, it is still a medical emergency and 911 should be called.
- Time to call 9-1-1
Migraines Can Alter Brain Structure Permanently
Scientists have discovered that migraines may affect the long-term structure of the brain and increase the risk of brain lesions, according to a study published in the journal Neurology.
Researchers from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark analyzed six population-based studies and 13 clinic-based studies to see whether there was a link between migraines and brain lesions, silent abnormalities or brain volume changes.
The study authors looked at MRI brain scans of patients with common migraines or migraines with aura. Migraine with aura is when a person experiences symptoms before the onset of the migraine. These scans were compared with those of people not suffering from the disorder.
The results of the study revealed that those who had migraines with aura showed a 68% increased risk of white matter brain lesions, compared with those who did not have migraines.
Patients who experienced common migraines showed a 34% increased risk of brain lesions compared with those not suffering from migraines.
Infarct-like abnormalities in the brain symptoms that indicate a disruption in blood flow to the brain increased by 44% in those who had migraines with aura compared with those who had migraines without aura.
Additionally, brain volume changes were more prevalent in both people with common migraines and migraines with aura than those without the conditions.
The study authors explain:
Is Your Migraine Causing You To Have Memory Loss
Migraine headaches account for more difficulties in doing physical and mental activities than any other neurological condition. A lot of people feel that the severe headaches mean something dangerous is happening inside their brain. For example, is your migraine caus-ing you to have memory loss?
Although they can cause your head to hurt like crazy, 95% of all migraines are harmless. They may be accompanied by flashing lights and dizziness, which are caused by a tempo-rary change in the electrical activity of the brain that lead to head pain and sensitivity to light & loud noises.
Complex migraines, also known as migraines with aura, affect about 30% of people who have migraine. The aura represents reversible neurological symptoms that usually evolve over the course of 5 minutes and almost always disappear within the course of an hour and is usually followed or accompanied by a severe migraine headache.
The aura symptoms include:
- Visual sparks or flashes of light in the eyes,
- Zigzag lines or prism like visual illusions
- Blind spots in the vision
- Tingling or numbness of the face, hand, or one side of the body,
- Difficulty with expressive language where the individual has difficulty forming words or articulating what they want to say
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Can You Prevent Brain Lesions
Scientists are still looking for ways to protect against brain lesions. They think keeping your migraines in check can help. Having frequent attacks is linked with a higher risk of lesions, so fending off migraines or treating them early on may help lower your risk. These simple steps could help:
- Talk to your doctor. You may need to take medicine or get treatments, like Botox injections, to head off migraines.
- Know your triggers. Bright lights, weather changes, and certain foods could set off your migraines. Once you know your triggers, you can learn to avoid them.
- Keep a lid on stress. Make time to unwind and do things you enjoy every day.
- Get moving. Exercise eases tension and boosts blood flow to the brain, which can help stave off headaches. Research also shows that physical activity may prevent white matter lesions.
- Practice good sleep habits. A bad night could set off an attack. Try to go to bed and wake up at around the same time.
Whats A Migraine What Does A Migraine Feel Like
A migraine is a common neurological disease that causes a variety of symptoms, most notably a throbbing, pulsing headache on one side of your head. Your migraine will likely get worse with physical activity, lights, sounds or smells. It may last at least four hours or even days. About 12% of Americans have this genetic disorder. Research shows that its the sixth most disabling disease in the world.
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Can Migraines Damage The Brain
Migraine pain can be intense, and because it often comes with other neurological symptoms, it could create some worry about long-term effects. So, can migraines have a long-term effect on the brain? The short answer is yes however, that doesnt necessarily mean a negative outlook.
According to the American Migraine Foundation, migraines can leave some mark on the brain in the form of white matter lesions. However, a 2013 systematic review found that these lesions are typically not related to any neurological issue
While it is highly unlikely that migraines will kill brain cells or lead to brain damage as we typically think of it, that doesnt mean migraines are harmless. According to headache researcher Dr. K.C. Brennan at the University of Utah, the danger of migraines is that they can teach your brain that pain is normal. In an interview with WebMd he said, Studies show a dysfunctional learning process in the brain in migraine and other pain conditions…The brain learns to produce and perpetuate pain ” The reason this happens is because of a process called neuroplasticity, which is your brains ability to change and reshape synaptic connections after an experience. Because the brain can evolve and re-route neural pathways, migraines can alter your brain in a way where you experience pain more often
What Is The Prognosis For People With Migraines
Migraines are unique to each individual. Likewise, how migraines are managed is also unique. The best outcomes are usually achieved by learning and avoiding personal migraine triggers, managing symptoms, practicing preventive methods, following the advice of your healthcare provider and reporting any significant changes as soon as they occur.
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When To See A Physician About Your Trauma
Migraines are not usually dangerous. That being said, you may want to see your healthcare professional if you suffer the following:
- Nausea or vomiting, along with the head pain
- Worsening headaches
- Weakness in your arms or legs
- Having problems with speech
The onset of these symptoms, particularly limb weakness or slurring speech, can indicate other problems than a migraine or other headache.
Posterior Circulation Territory Infarcts
Based on our finding of an increased prevalence of posterior circulation infarct-like lesions in migraineurs, we further focused on these lesions. Of all 60 identified subclinical brain infarcts, 39 were in the posterior circulation territory, and a majority of these were located in the cerebellum. Lesions were often multiple, and round or oval shaped, with a mean diameter of 7 mm. The majority of infratentorial infarct-like lesions had a vascular border zone location in the cerebellum. Prevalence of these border zone lesions differed between controls , cases with migraine without aura and cases with migraine with aura . Besides higher age, cardiovascular risk factors were not more prevalent in migraineurs with posterior circulation infarct-like lesions compared to those without lesions. The combination of vascular distribution, deep border zone location, shape, size and imaging characteristics on MRI makes it likely that the lesions have an ischaemic origin.
No previous study specifically reported on cerebellar lesions in migraine. But interestingly, subclinical cerebellar dysfunction has been reported in migraineurs, which raises the question whether more advanced functional tests would have identified cerebellar dysfunction in our cases.
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Theories About Migraine Pain
Older theories about migraines suggested that symptoms were possibly due to fluctuations in blood flow to the brain. Now many headache researchers realize that changes in blood flow and blood vessels dont initiate the pain, but may contribute to it.
Current thinking regarding migraine pain has moved more toward the source of the problem, as improved technology and research have paved the way for a better understanding. Today, it is widely understood that chemical compounds and hormones, such as serotonin and estrogen, often play a role in pain sensitivity for migraine sufferers.
One aspect of migraine pain theory explains that migraine pain happens due to waves of activity by groups of excitable brain cells. These trigger chemicals, such as serotonin, to narrow blood vessels. Serotonin is a chemical necessary for communication between nerve cells. It can cause narrowing of blood vessels throughout the body.
When serotonin or estrogen levels change, the result for some is a migraine. Serotonin levels may affect both sexes, while fluctuating estrogen levels affect women only.
For women, estrogen levels naturally vary over the life cycle, with increases during fertile years and decreases afterwards. Women of childbearing age also experience monthly changes in estrogen levels. Migraines in women are often associated with these fluctuating hormone levels and may explain why women are more likely to have migraines than men.
How Are Migraines Diagnosed
To diagnose a migraine, your healthcare provider will get a thorough medical history, not just your history of headaches but your familys, too. Also, they’ll want to establish a history of your migraine-related symptoms, likely asking you to:
- Describe your headache symptoms. How severe are they?
- Remember when you get them. During your period, for example?
- Describe the type and location of your pain. Is the pain pounding? Pulsing? Throbbing?
- Remember if anything makes your headache better or worse.
- Tell how often you get migraine headaches.
- Talk about the activities, foods, stressors or the situations that may have brought on the migraine.
- Discuss what medications you take to relieve the pain and how often you take them.
- Tell how you felt before, during and after the headache.
- Remember if anyone in your family gets migraine headaches.
Your healthcare provider may also order blood tests and imaging tests to make sure there are no other causes for your headache. An electroencephalogram may be ordered to rule out seizures.
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Stroke And Cardiovascular Disease
As we noted above, specific lesions or damage to the brain has been observed over the course of migraine progression. This may contribute to and explain the presence of cardiovascular disorders in the later stages of life. It is important to remember, however, that statistics still show these as rare occurrences even if there is a higher inherent risk.
- Stroke: Those diagnosed with migraine with auraparticularly after the age of 50 yearshave a particular concern for ischemic stroke later in life, according to researchers.12 Atrial fibrillation, or irregular heartbeat, has also been associated with migraine-related aurawhich directly increases the likelihood of stroke.13 Its also important to note that other non-aura migraine types and earlier development can lead to elevated stroke risk.
- Other Cardiovascular Diseases: Findings remain inconsistent as to whether chronic migraine leads to coronary heart disease and hypertension .11 While the link is unclear, patients must still pay close attention to any changes in their heart functioning.
Types Of Headaches And Their Causes
A lot of things can cause a headache, and not all types of headaches are the same. Generally, scientists divide headaches into two categories: primary and secondary headaches.
Primary Headache A primary headache is generally a stand-alone issue caused by the factors we just mentioned: overactivity of vessels and muscles around the head and neck According to the Mayo Clinic, many things can lead to a primary headache: poor posture, alcohol consumption , stress, lack of sleep or changes in sleep patterns, or foods such as processed meat
Several other issues fall under the category of primary headaches: cluster headaches, tension headaches, and migraines
Secondary Headaches These headaches are brought on by other issues that affect the pain sensors around your head and neck. Secondary headaches can range in their intensity and can be caused by a wide range of things Here are just a few: Sinus infections, dehydration, dental issues, some medications, hangovers, psychiatric issues and many many other things
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Migraines Linked With Brain Damage
3 Min Read
WASHINGTON – People with migraines also may be suffering from some brain damage as brain cells swell and become starved of oxygen — a finding that may help explain why migraine sufferers have a higher risk of stroke, researchers reported on Sunday.
Similar brain damage can occur with concussions and after strokes, the researchers said in this weeks issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience.
They said their findings suggest that migraine sufferers should not simply get pain relief but should take drugs that prevent the migraine, which is often preceded by aura — a series of visual disturbances that can include flashes of light or black spots.
The research, which was done in mice, also suggests giving oxygen may help reduce the damage, said Takahiro Takano, Maiken Nedergaard and colleagues at the University of Rochester in New York, working with a team at the Danish pharmaceutical group Novo Nordisk.
They studied a process called cortical spreading depression, known as CSD, a wave of changes in cells associated with migraine, stroke and head trauma.
They used a precise two-photon microscopic and oxygen sensor microelectrodes to look at the brains of live mice while they caused this process.
They saw a swelling occur and the brain cells became starved of oxygen. The nerve cells were damaged — specifically the dendrites, the long, thin spikes that stretch from one nerve cell to another.
Why Do Headaches Happen After Brain Injury
Right after a severe TBI, people may have headaches because of the surgery on their skulls or because they have small collections of blood or fluid inside the skull.
Headaches can also occur after mild to moderate injury or, in the case of severe TBI, after the initial healing has taken place. These headaches can be caused by a variety of conditions, including a change in the brain caused by the injury, neck and skull injuries that have not yet fully healed, tension and stress, or side effects from medication.
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What The Research Shows
While it’s clear that migraine is a risk factor for developing subclinical brain lesions, the causes, nature, and long-term outcomes are still uncertain and the research is somewhat inconsistent.
As of now, research indicates that the presence of brain lesions seems to be more common in women, especially those who have frequent migraine attacks and who have a long history of migraines. Lesions are also associated more strongly with people who have migraine with aura.
As far as other causes for brain lesions, a 2015 study examined the relationship of cardiovascular risk factors , like smoking, high blood pressure, body mass index , and high cholesterol, to the presence of white matter hyperintensities in migraineurs.
The results indicated that these cardiovascular risk factors weren’t associated with WMH in people with migraine, and other studies have shown similar results. The authors suggest that the effects of migraine itself may be the direct cause for the brain lesions.
It’s possible that there are other factors involved too. For instance, some scientists recommend studying the relationship between a patent foramen ovale and brain lesions in migraines. A PFO, which is a hole in your heart, is more common in migraineurs with aura and is found in about one-fifth of the population. PFO increases your risk of stroke, as tiny blood clots can travel from the heart through the hole to the brain.
Understanding Migraine And Stroke
Stroke and migraine both happen in the brain, and sometimes the symptoms of a migraine can mimic a stroke. However, the causes of the symptoms are different. A stroke is due to damage to the blood supply inside the brain, but migraine is thought to be due to problems with the way brain cells work.
In a stroke, the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off, killing brain cells. This causes permanent damage to the brain, and can have long-lasting physical, cognitive and emotional effects.
A migraine causes pain and sensory disturbances, but the changes inside the brain are usually temporary.
The relationship between migraine and stroke is complex. The symptoms can sometimes seem similar, and they may share some underlying risk factors.
Occasionally migraine and stroke can happen together, but there is no evidence to suggest that one causes the other. Migrainous infarction is the term given to an ischaemic stroke that happens during a migraine. This tends to happen alongside prolonged aura symptoms, but is extremely rare.
Stroke risk and migraine
If you have migraine with aura, you’re about twice as likely to have an ischaemic stroke in your lifetime, compared to those without migraine. However, the overall risk linked to migraine is still very low, and you’re far more likely to have a stroke because of other risk factors like smoking and high blood pressure.
Women and migraine
Other health conditions
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