Migraines and Increased Risk of Stroke

By Michael Dorausch, D.C.

Research from the Department of Neurology at the University of Maryland school of medicine is suggesting that women who suffer from migraines accompanied by visual symptoms (often called an aura) have a slight increased risk of stroke, especially if they are smokers, and/or use oral contraceptives.

The lead researcher of the study suggested that the findings should not be a cause of alarm for women but it is something to take into account and should be discussed further with their health care professional.

migraines headaches chiropractic neckThe study involved collecting data of 386 women ranging in age from 15 years to 49 years old, all of whom have had a stroke. Researchers then compared the group of women to a group of 614 who hadn’t suffered a stroke. One of the findings was that women with migraines involving visual symptoms had a 1.5 increased risk of stroke, when compared to women in the second group.

When comparing women who had migraines that included an aura and who also used oral contraceptives and were smokers, there was a reported sevenfold increased risk of stroke, when compared to the group of women who had the same migraine type symptoms but did not smoke or use the oral contraceptive method of birth control.

According to the researchers, migraines that involve visual symptoms should be considered a weak risk factor for stroke. It was suggested that you can’t do anything about that risk. Findings of the study have been published in the September issue of the Journal Stroke.

Recommendations were made that women who have migraines involving auras should discontinue smoking and discuss other alternatives of birth control with their doctors.

On the topic of treating the migraine to lower the risk of stroke, researchers did not have any conclusive answers. As far as the researchers were concerned, the thought that treating the migraine would decrease the risk of stroke is only speculation.

You would think that women who suffer from migraines would likely become non-smokers, but that may not be the case. In my experience, nearly all the women I know that are migraine sufferers watch their caffeine intake, alcohol intake, consumption of chocolate, cheese, and generally don’t smoke.

While thousands of women visit chiropractic offices with complaints of migraines, and often get great results, it’s important to know that chiropractors do not directly treat migraine headaches. Most chiropractors will look to the neck, especially the area just below the skull, for causes of spinal stress, that may likely be a factor in the resulting migraine. Methods of correction vary greatly from office to office. For a chiropractic approach to the reduction of migraines and related symptoms, it’s best to discuss options with your local chiropractor.

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