REUTERS Published: January 28, 2004
Researchers have identified brain lesions in some victims of migraines, a finding that could indicate that those severe headaches can be a symptom of progressive brain-damaging disease, a new study says.
The research, which has possible implications for treatment, involved 295 Dutch adults 30 to 60 years old, some of whom had migraines along with vision problems while the others had migraines without any such problems. They were compared with 140 similar people who were migraine-free.
Using magnetic resonance images, the researchers found that for patients with both migraines and visual problems, the risk of cerebral infarction — the death of tissue due to lack of oxygen when a blood clot blocks an artery — was 13 times as high as the risk within the group that had no migraines at all.
The study, by Dr. Mark Kruit of Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands and his colleagues, is being published in the current issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.
One of the paper's co-authors, Lenore Lauer of the United States National Institutes of Health, said of the finding: "It means we may need to shift the way people think about migraines. They're thought of now as episodic — people get a headache and that's it."
In reality, she said, the problem may be a chronic one, and "one of the future questions to ask is about the path and type of treatment that may be most useful."