Recently, I talk with a friend of mine who gets more than a headache; she gets migraines. And it’s not just during the busy times of year. She gets a migraine without warning. It usually comes on at different times of the day and many times, she wakes up with one. She’s not alone. Most Americans who suffer migraines are women. And what’s worse, having migraines can increase a woman’s stroke risk three to six times.
I always assumed a migraine was just a really bad headache, which it is. But I was amazed when my friend would call in sick to work because she had a migraine. But after talking to her and doing some research, migraine is really a disorder.
This disorder involves recurrent moderate to severe headaches that may be accompanied by dizziness, nausea, vomiting or extreme sensitivity to light and sound. The pain of a migraine headache is often described as an intense pulsing or throbbing pain in one area of the head.
People with migraine tend to have attacks that are triggered by lack of food or sleep, exposure to light or even hormonal irregularities. Researchers believe that migraine is caused by inherited abnormalities in genes that control the activities of certain cell populations in the brain. Many sufferers treat their migraine with medications to prevent the attacks or relieve the symptoms during the attacks.
Women are more likely to suffer from migraine than men. What’s worse is a migraine can induce other serious conditions including stroke, permanent visual loss, coma and even death.
In fact, according to the New England Journal of Medicine migraines can sometimes lead to ischemic stroke and a stroke can sometimes be aggravated by a migraine. 27 percent of all strokes suffered by people 45 years old and under are caused by a migraine.
Medical Journal reported that after the evaluation of 14 major migraine and stroke studies in the United States and Canada, researchers found migraine sufferers are at a 2.2 times greater risk for stroke than people who don’t suffer from migraines. The risk of stroke goes up even more, 8 times more, for women who suffer from migraines and are on the pill.
If you are a migraine sufferer, female and take the pill, talk to your doctor about ways you can reduce your risk for stroke.