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Terrible Headaches pose a Stroke Risk

Jan 28th, 2013

Headaches pose a Stroke RiskAs many as 17 percent of women and 6 percent of men have experienced the debilitating pain of migraine. Some people who get migraines have warning symptoms, called an aura, before the actual headache begins. Research shows that women who have migraines accompanied by their distinctive aura symptoms are at greater risk of having a stroke than those who don’t get migraines. Until recently, scientists saw migraine suffering as a physiological thunderstorm that left few lasting effects.

A migraine is a common type of headache that may occur with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light. These migraines and headaches pose a stroke risk. In many people, a throbbing pain is felt only on one side of the head. Some migraines are triggered by external factors which include bright lights, stress, lack of sleep or too much sleep, alcohol, chocolates, dairy products and cigarette smoking. Migraines tend to be hereditary which leads some to believe that the heightened sensitivity of the nerves in the brain to certain triggers may be genetic.

A cerebrovascular accident (CVA) or stroke is a medical emergency.  Strokes happen when blood flow to your brain stops. A report from the National Stroke Association says that someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. Every four minutes, someone dies of stroke. Life threatening complications may occur after a stroke. Early treatment may decrease the amount of damage to brain cells. When brain cells are damaged or die the body parts controlled by these cells cannot function, thus disability.

Why the link?

Migraine headaches are caused by inflammation of the arteries surrounding the brain. Other arteries inside the brain may spasm during an attack which may temporarily impede circulation thus increasing the chances of stroke. However, there is little evidence that suggests a stroke is more likely to occur during a migraine attack than at another time.

More risks.

Stroke is generally cause by numerous factors working in combination. Some are high blood pressure, obesity, high blood cholesterol, diabetes and heart diseases. Other factors that can increase the risk for stroke include cigarette smoking and the use of birth control pills. People experiencing migraines should be particularly cautious about controlling any modifiable risk factors for stroke that they may have.

Reducing risks.

Obesity and excess weight put a strain on the entire circulatory system. Adopting healthy eating habits and increasing physical activity can help reduce stroke risk. Maintaining a healthy normal range of blood pressure is one way. Talk to your doctor about steps you can take to control your blood pressure and cholesterol. Change unhealthy eating. Seriously quit smoking. Drink alcohol in moderation.

Migraine prevention.

Migraines cannot be cured but the symptoms can be treated. Many migraine sufferers find that it is easier and more effective to prevent a migraine from happening than trying to treat the pain and nausea once it occurs. Nearly 40 percent of people with migraines could benefit from preventive therapy, a latest guideline from the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society. It is important to figure out your own migraine triggers and keep track on how often it occurs. Lifestyle changes are necessary for prevention as well as avoiding triggers. Personally, certain smells like perfume triggers migraine, so I avoid certain strong scents to prevent a migraine attack. Stress is also a personal trigger so I take time each day for a relaxation break. Medication can also help in prevention and relief. As always, it’s best to consult your doctor before ingesting medications as treatment to migraine symptoms.

Source: VISTA Health Solutions

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