January 1, 2009

Migraine Sufferers Report Stroke Warning Sign

People who regularly suffer from migraines are more apt to have a headache before a stroke, according to new research by Italian scientists.

The report is published in the current issue of the journal Headache.

Lead investigator Dr. Paola Sarchielli said, "Headache is a common clinical symptom preceding or accompanying stroke, and migraine patients have a greater probability of complaining of headache, often with migraine-like features, before and during acute stroke than non-migraineur patients."

Sarchielli and her research team from the University of Perugia said there is limited information available on the characteristics of headaches associated with ischemia.

Researchers analyzed 146 ischemic stroke patients, 70 who had a lifetime history of migraine and 76 who did not.

Ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke, stems from a blockage of a vessel in the brain.

The blockage stops the supply of blood and the supply of oxygen to surrounding brain tissue.

Eighty percent of the migraine patients report a headache in the 24 hours before their stroke, compared with 20 percent of those without migraine.

This "suggests that cerebral ischemia lowers the threshold for head pain more easily in these 'susceptible' patients," the researchers wrote.

"The more frequent involvement of brainstem in migraineur patients with ischemic infarction supports the hypothesis that vascular events preceding the clinical stroke...can cause a dysfunction of this structure, which may be more predisposed to be abnormally activated," concluded Sarchielli.


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