Migraine in women increases brain lesions risk

Middle-aged women who had migraine headaches with aura i.e. sensory disturbances, such as with vision, balance or speech, had a higher prevalence of brain lesions when they were older, compared to individuals without similar types of headaches.

The new study published in the June 24 issue of JAMA.

Migraine is a common neurovascular disorder that affects approximately 11 percent of adults and is more common in women than men.

Approximately one-third of individuals with migraine experience neurological aura symptoms before headache onset (migraine with aura).

Ann I. Scher, Ph.D., of Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, Md., and colleagues examined the relationship of midlife migraine symptoms and late-life infarct (tissue death)-like lesions evident on MRI. The study included 4,689 men and women in Reykjavik, Iceland (born between 1907-1935; 57 percent women) who were followed-up since 1967, examined, and interviewed about migraine symptoms in midlife (average age, 51 years; range, 33-65 years).

Between 2002 and 2006, more than 26 years later, brain MRIs were performed. Participants reporting headaches once or more per month were asked about migraine symptoms and were classified as having migraine without aura, migraine with aura, or nonmigraine headache. A comprehensive cardiovascular risk assessment was performed at examinations. Infarct-like lesions were present on MRI in 39.3 percent of men and 24.6 percent of women.

The relationship between migraine with aura and cerebellar infarcts was only significant in women, but was not statistically different by the age at which headache symptoms were assessed. Migraine without aura and nonmigraine headache were not associated with an increased risk of lesions. The clinical significance of the infarct-like lesions, such as whether the individuals with them had any symptoms, was not assessed.

“In summary, this study suggests that a remote history of migraine with aura is associated with brain lesions commonly found in older populations” the authors write.

Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, USA



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