Saturday, August 13, 2022
HomeCan A Migraine Cause A Stroke

Can A Migraine Cause A Stroke

Silent Structural Brain Lesions

Does migraine cause stroke? | Norton Neuroscience Institute

Migraine is not considered to have long-term consequences for brain function, and current guidelines suggest that people with migraine with a normal neurologic examination does not require routine MRI. Only for patients with atypical headache, a recent change in headache pattern, other symptoms or focal neurologic symptoms or signs, MRI of the brain is recommended. A source of concern for both physicians and patients are clinically silent structural brain lesions that are often revealed on MRI. These lesions are not specific to migraine, and the exact aetiology and clinical significance remain uncertain. Neuroimaging studies indicate that migraine is a risk factor for silent brain lesions such as white matter hyperintensities and silent infarct-like lesions . Data point towards a clear association with MA, whereas the link to MO is more controversial. Some studies have also failed to find any association between MA and silent brain lesions. Traditional cardiovascular risk factors and specific antimigraine medication do not modify the association between structural brain lesions and migraine. Comparison of data across different studies is difficult, as different definitions of silent brain lesions are used, a clear distinction between migraine subtypes may be difficult, and migraine-related variables such as attack frequency, duration and type of aura are not always reported.

    Silent infarct-like lesions

    Clinical implication

    The Two Types Of Hemiplegic Migraines

    This type of migraine can be subdivided into two types: familial and sporadic hemiplegic migraines.

    Familial hemiplegic migraine occurs in a least two members of the same family and these migraines must have weakness on one side of the body. Children of parents with hemiplegic migraines are much more likely to have FHM 50% of children will go on to develop FHM.

    Sporadic hemiplegic migraine occurs as a result of sporadic gene mutation, hence the name sporadic hemiplegic migraine. People who suffer SHMs have no known genetic component to their hemiplegic migraines.

    Hemiplegic migraines have been linked to issues with the following genes:

    • CACNA1A
    • ATP1A2
    • SCN1A

    When there is a mutation in these genes, the body is unable to make specific proteins. Nerve cells are then unable to process signals appropriately, which may cause the migraines.

    Treatment Of Hemiplegic Migraines

    Treatment of hemiplegic migraines is often debated there is no clear-cut algorithm for treatment. However, traditional medicine, holistic migraine treatment, avoiding migraine triggers may help to reduce them.

    Many doctors agree that if a trigger is identified, you should avoid that trigger in order to avoid a hemiplegic migraine.

    According to the Diamond Headache Clinic, Many of the abortive and pain relief drugs commonly prescribed for other migraine attacks, such as triptans and ergotamines, are contraindicated for a hemiplegic headache. Safe drug treatment options include NSAIDs, antiemetics and narcotic analgesics.

    That being said, WebMD notes that some MDs will prescribe triptans for the treatment of hemiplegic migraines. Both resources note that calcium channel blockers may be effective in treating hemiplegic migraines.

    Related Topics :

    Also Check: Does Naproxen Help Migraines

    Migraines Are Usually Set Off By A Specific Trigger But Strokes Are Not

    Not everyone has the same migraine triggers, but stress, hormonal changes, sudden weather changes, and too much or too little sleep can cause a migraine flare-up. Even certain foods or drinks, including alcohol, chocolate, and cured meats, can lead to migraines in certain people. Migraine brains dont like change, Dr. Dougherty says, which is why doctors advise people who get migraines to follow a consistent schedule as best as they can.

    Unlike migraines, strokes arent triggered by a specific change, though there are risk factors that can increase your chances of developing a stroke, including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and history of mini-strokes. If youre not at risk of a stroke, your symptoms occur after encountering one of your specific migraine triggers, and they are similar to symptoms during previous migraines, then migraine may be the cause of your pain. If youre at all unsure, then its a good idea to reach out to your primary care physician if you have one or to contact a hospital for further advice.


    Increased Risk Of Perioperative Stroke

    Explaining the Similar Symptoms Between Migraines and Stroke

    A recent prospective hospital registry study found that surgical patients with a history of migraine are at increased risk for perioperative ischemic stroke and have an increased 30-day hospital readmission rate.17 The researchers recommend that migraine be considered in the risk assessment for perioperative ischemic stroke.

    You May Like: Do Migraines Ever Go Away

    Migraine And Vascular Risk Factors

    The role of conventional vascular risk factors on the risk of cardiovascular events in people with migraine is controversial. Migraine, and particularly MA, is associated with an unfavourable cardiovascular risk profile and an increased 10-year predicted risk of coronary heart disease based on the Framingham Risk Score. Frequent headache and long-term migraine are associated with a poorer cardiovascular risk profile. Although people with migraine have an increased risk of ischaemic stroke in the presence of vascular risk factors, several studies have shown that the association between migraine and ischaemic stroke is apparent in people with low Framingham Risk Score. The few exceptions were a positive association with family history of cardiovascular disease, cigarette smoking and oral contraceptives. This agrees with reports that coronary and carotid arteries of individuals with active migraine are found to be less severely affected by atherosclerosis than individuals without migraine, suggesting a non-atherosclerotic mechanism behind the MA-ischaemic stroke link.

    Clinical implication

    Migraines Are More Common In People Younger Than 30 Strokes Are More Common In Older People

    People of any age can get migraines, but you generally get fewer and less severe attacks once youre out of your 30s, according to the Mayo Clinic. Strokes most commonly affect people in their 60s, and at this point many individuals who experienced migraines when they were younger generally dont get them either as frequently or at all anymore, according to Dr. Stieg. If you cant tell whether your headache, vision changes, or other symptoms are closer to a stroke or migraine, and you havent had a migraine recently, then its safest to get emergency care as soon as you can. If youve never experienced a migraine and are older than your 30s, your chances of getting your first migraine are low. In that case, its safest to get medical care as soon as you can if youre having symptoms.

    That said, younger people can have strokes, particularly individuals with certain medical conditions, like a blood clotting disorder, sickle cell disease, or a metabolic condition, according to the Cleveland Clinic. If youre at an increased risk of having a stroke and questioning whether youre experiencing a stroke or migraine, then its a good idea to be cautious and go into the hospital if you can.

    Also Check: Does Daith Piercing Really Work For Migraines

    Managing Risk Of Stroke In Migraine

    As a risk factor you cant help having migraine with aura. However, there are some things that can help to manage other risk factors for stroke. Managing any vascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol can help. As can managing any other conditions that may increase your risk, such as arterial hypertension or Diabetes.

    There are certain risk factors for stroke that can affect anyone at any age. These include:

    • smoking
    • high blood pressure
    • being overweight

    These are likely to have more of an impact on your risk of stroke than migraine. If youre worried about your risk of stroke you should speak to your GP about your individual risk of stroke.

    What Are The Treatment Options

    Dr. David Soria Q& A: Heat exhaustion & heat stroke Can heat cause migraines?

    Migraine and stroke both involve the blood vessels in the brain, but they have different causes, effects, and treatments. Both can cause serious symptoms, like pain, that may need urgent medical attention.

    If you have migraine, your doctor will recommend pain medication and other medications that help dilate the blood vessels in your brain. Injectable muscle relaxants in the jaw and head may also help reduce migraine episodes.

    Strokes can lead to permanent disability. Treatment depends on the type of stroke. You may need medications to break up clots and lower your blood pressure.

    If you have long-lasting effects of stroke, like difficulty speaking or walking, you may require physiotherapy and other kinds of treatment.

    Don’t Miss: Can You Get A Sick Note For Migraines

    Coexisting Ischemic Stroke And Migraine

    Despite the apparent increased risk of stroke in migraineurs, the high frequency of migraine in young adults underlines its possible coexistence with ischemic stroke without contributing to its development.

    Being the etiology of these strokes probably multifactorial, identification and management of other established risk factors should be pursued with particular vigilance in all migraine sufferers .

    Which Migraine Types Can Resemble Stroke

    Migraine with aura is the type of migraine most commonly mistaken for stroke. The aura in migraine with aura is a set of visual, sensory, or other nervous system symptoms that usually last between a few minutes and an hour, and usually precede the headache phase of an attack. Its possible to have aura symptoms with no headache.

    About 25 percent of people with migraine experience auras, according to the Migraine Research Foundation.

    The most common aura symptoms are visual effects such as bright flashing lights or spots or zigzags in a persons field of vision. Other possible aura symptoms include losing sight for short periods having tingling and numbness in the face, hands, or other areas of the body hearing sounds such as buzzing or music and having speech and language problems such as being unable to say words, slurring, or mumbling, according to the American Migraine Foundation. Any of those could easily be assumed to be signs of a stroke.

    Another migraine type that can cause stroke-like symptoms is a very rare inherited condition called familial hemiplegic migraine, or sporadic hemiplegic migraine if it occurs in only one person in a family. Symptoms of a hemiplegic migraine attack are the same as migraine with aura but also include motor, or muscle, weakness on one side of the body that may persist for days or even weeks. Rarely, hemiplegic migraine can cause fever, confusion, loss of consciousness, or even profound coma.

    You May Like: How To Beat Migraines Naturally

    Is There A Connection Between Migraine And Stroke

    You can have both migraine and stroke, and having some migraine types may increase your risk for stroke.

    One retrospective research study from 2018 suggested that having classical migraine may raise your risk for having an ischemic stroke .

    A ministroke, or transient ischemic attack, was also thought to be more common in people with migraine.

    Having chronic migraine doesnt mean that youll have a stroke, but there may be an increased risk for some people.

    Find Out Your Stroke Risk

    I Thought I Was Having A Stroke But It Was Actually An ...

    Most strokes involve a clot that blocks blood flow to your brain . Sometimes, a weakened blood vessel breaks, causing bleeding . A temporary clot can cause a mini stroke or TIA . The smallest stroke can damage your brain or warn of a bigger stroke to come. It can limit your ability to think, talk or move. If you see symptoms, call 911 right away.

    Read Also: Do I Have A Migraine Quiz

    Migraine And Hormone Replacement Therapy

    There are insufficient data to support a further increased risk of ischaemic stroke in women with any type of migraine who are using hormone replacement therapy.

    Clinical implication

    After menopause, MA in itself is not a contraindication for the use of hormone-replacement therapy, but stroke risk related to the therapy itself should be considered.

    One Type Of Migraine May Produce Stroke

    Three migraine types affect the vast majority of sufferers classic migraine migraine with aura and hemiplegic migraine, which is felt on one side of the head only.

    It’s believed hemiplegic migraine has more of a connection to blood flow, Jan said. “Though hemiplegic migraine is very rare less than 1 percent of all migraines it can result in symptoms of weakness on one side of the body, tiredness, slurred speech and numbness, tingling and pain in the limbs, sometimes for hours or even days.”

    Bland said hemiplegic migraines can happen randomly, especially when you have a history of migraine with aura. Hemiplegic migraine “can be what’s known as sporadic or it can be familial,” she said, “so you may be more likely to experience a hemiplegic migraine if members of your family have suffered from this type.”

    When someone comes into a hospital emergency department complaining of migraine and other symptoms, including weakness on one side of the body, numbness, tingling and/or slurred speech, a CT scan may be ordered to rule out a stroke, Jan said. Doctors are more concerned about a possible stroke in patients over 40 with other risk factors, she said, including high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, current use of oral contraceptives, obesity and current or former tobacco use.

    Read Also: Can You Get Disability For Migraines

    Stroke Or Migraine How To Know The Difference

    Youre hit suddenly with a blinding headache. Maybe youve had migraines before and this feels like another one. Or maybe youve never had a migraine but imagine this is what one must feel like. You might be right, but what if youre not? Just like stomach pain and chest pain, a bad headache can indicate a number of conditions that have similar or overlapping symptoms. Since both stroke and migraine are common neurovascular disorders with many neurological and physical similarities, your throbbing head could be a migraine mimicking a stroke or a stroke disguised as a migraine. So which it is: stroke or migraine? Knowing the difference could save your life.

    Are There Steps You Can Take To Lower Your Stroke Risk

    Migraine and Stroke

    Yes, there are things you can do starting right now to lower your risk of stroke. For one thing, be sure to have a complete physical every year and see your neurologist for migraine prevention and treatment. Ask your doctor about:

    • medications that can lessen the frequency of migraine attacks
    • an assessment of your risk factors for stroke
    • birth control methods that dont increase your risk of blood clots

    There are also lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of stroke. Some of the most important include the following:

    Recommended Reading: Migraine Disability Allowance

    Can You Have A Stroke During An Ocular Migraine Attack

    In rare cases, a stroke can occur during an ocular migraine. Doctors call these strokes migraneous infarctions, and they account for only 0.5 percent of all stroke cases.

    Migraneous infarctions can be even tougher to distinguish from an ocular migraine because they also involve an aura.

    The difference is, the aura during an infarction lasts much longer than a migraine. Most auras only last around 30 minutes.

    If you continue to see flashing or shimmering lights for over an hour, seek treatment right away.

    The Role Of Birth Control Pills

    Oral contraceptives slightly increase the risk of stroke for anyone who is taking them, and this risk goes up when you have other risk factors for stroke. If you’re taking birth control pills to help prevent menstrual migraines and/or as a form of birth control, you might be wondering if it’s safe for you to take them when it comes to your stroke risk. Whether or not birth control pills are right for you depends on a number of factors.

    There are two types of hormonal oral contraceptivesthe combination pill, which contains both estrogen and progestin, and the progestin-only pill, often called the mini pill. Older formulations of birth control pills contained much higher dosages of estrogen than they do now, and studies have shown that it’s these higher doses that have the strongest association with stroke.

    As mentioned, if you have migraine with aura, you have a higher risk of stroke than people who don’t experience aura. Taking combination birth control pills that contain 50 µg or more of estrogen may increase this risk even further, though there isn’t sufficient evidence to say if this is true with today’s lower estrogen doses.

    If you have migraine without aura, you can probably safely take combination birth control pills with low doses of estrogen as long as you have no other stroke risk factors such as:

    Don’t Miss: How To Get A Migraine

    What Are The Treatments For Migraines And Strokes

    Migraine treatment

    There is no cure for migraine, but the headaches can be managed with:

    Stroke treatment

    Stroke is a medical emergency. If you have stroke symptoms, call 9-1-1 and get medical attention immediately.

    It is important to CT scan the patients brain to diagnose an ischemic stroke from a hemorrhagic stroke because the emergent treatments are very different.

    Blood thinners are the most common treatment for acute ischemic stroke. The clot buster drug used in emergency settings is called alteplase , also referred to as tPA and it must be administered within 3-4.5 hours of the onset of stroke symptoms for the best chance of recovery. Patients who cannot receive tPA may receive blood thinners such as aspirin and clopidogrel. Some stroke patients also may need, or benefit from, intra-arterial blood thinners or clot retrieval devices.

    Patients with carotid artery disease may get a carotid endarterectomy or carotid artery angioplasty to open blocked carotid arteries.

    Aura: Warning Sign Of A Migraineand A Future Stroke

    Can Migraine Cause a Stroke? What You Need to Know About It

    Excruciating pain. Nausea. Sensitivity to light. The crushing symptoms of migraine headaches affect 15% of the population and, unfortunately, women are 3 times as likely as men to experience them.

    Migraine headaches alone are bad enough. But add the symptoms related to auras and your risk of a future stroke goes up significantly.


    A migraine headache with aura, known as a classical migraine, affects up to 30% of migraine sufferers. Five to 20 minutes before the onset of the headache, you see flashing lights, sparks, and dark patches. These effects might be accompanied by the feeling of pins and needles, spreading from one part of your body to another.

    In some ways the aura is a good thing. Longtime sufferers recognize the aura as a warning sign of an oncoming migraine. It allows the victim to prepare, taking medication to reduce the severity of the migraine.

    The migraine with aura should also be seen as a warning sign of possible stroke and heart problems.


    First, the good news: In most people, migraines rarely result in a stroke. Evidence says its also unlikely that a stroke will occur during a migraine.

    The not-so-good news: People who suffer migraines are more likely to eventually have some type of heart or vascular problem. A cause-and-effect hasnt been proven. In other words, the migraine with aura doesnt CAUSE the stroke. But the two do occur together.


    Read Also: What Type Of Migraine Do I Have Quiz


    Popular Articles