Brain Lesions in Women Linked to Frequent Migraines

Posted on November 14 2012

Migraines are severely painful headaches affecting both men and women that are accompanied by symptoms including sensitivity to light, nausea, and vomiting. A new study has found a link between female migraine sufferers and lesions of the brain’s white matter. The white matter hyperintensities, as the lesions are referred to, develop most often in women who experience migraines regularly. This new study, out of the Netherlands, studied participants who suffered frequent migraines and those who suffered none at all. The participants were also a mix of men and women, varying in age. Researchers conducted MRI brain scans at the beginning of the study period and again at the end. They later compared of the brain scans and through the images were able measure the difference in brain lesions in participants with migraine headaches and those without. The outcomes for men were positive, their scans showed that regardless of whether they suffered headaches or not, they all exhibited the same white matter hyperintensities during both periods of time. For the ladies, it was a different story. At the beginning and the end of the study, female migraine sufferers displayed a larger number of brain lesions in comparison to women without migraines. Additionally, migraine sufferers also displayed a greater progression of lesions. But there was also some good news. Researchers discovered that the growth of the lesions was not directly related to either the frequency or intensity of the migraines. They are also unrelated to the presence of aura, which is the vision and light disturbance experienced during a migraine. While the lesions may not be a direct result of damage done by the migraine, researchers believe that whatever causes the migraines in these women is most likely the culprit for the brain lesions. These lesions have been linked to causing conditions including dementia, possibly stemming from an ischemic origin, but at this time no cause can truly be ruled out. Additionally, because if the possible ischemic origin and the relation between infarcts, groups of dead brain cells, migraines are heavily suspect as a cause of strokes. Researchers and other doctors are encouraging women to not be overly alarmed. The migraine symptoms have been ruled out as a direct cause of the lesions, and frequency of migraines has little to no effect either. What they must focus on now is the direct cause of migraines and how to inhibit it. Many female migraine sufferers will be grateful if such a feat is accomplished, and it will be a step toward treating the brain lesions and possibly stopping one cause of stroke, and dementia. Sources: Time Health & Family - MedPage Today - HuffPost Healthy Living -


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