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Thursday 24th May 2018

Migraine linked to brain damage

30th April 2007

Brain damage that is similar to that found with concussions and stroke can also occur alongside a migraine, new research has shown.


The study, carried out by a team based in New York and Denmark, suggested that migraine sufferers should be treated with a class of medication that prevents migraine, rather than simply seeking pain relief.

Published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, the study in mice also found that oxygen might help reduce damage to brain cells by a process called cortical spreading depression (CSD), which induces a wave of changes in brain cells, especially the long, thin variety known as dendrites.

Using microscopic and oxygen-detecting electrodes, researchers studied changes in the brain cells of mice in which CSD had been induced.

They found that swelling occurred, and that the brain cells became starved of oxygen, which is sometimes admistered to migraine and cluster headache patients.

The team, working at the University of Rochester in New York, and at the Danish pharmaceutical group Novo Nordisk, said administering oxygen might help limit brain damage in trauma, stroke and migraine patients.

In addition, they said that CSD formed the neurological basis of migraine with aura, while the process could cause secondary damage in stroke and concussion patients.

Migraine is a severe and debilitating form of headache, affecting millions of people worldwide. Migraine with aura--seeing flashing lights--has been linked to a greater risk of stroke and heart attack.

Normal pain medication often has little effect on migraine but a class of drugs called triptans, also called serotonin agonists, and ergotamine drugs, can be used to prevent the worst effects if patients take them at the first sign.

Studies into whether the brain damage associated with migraine was permanent have been inconclusive, with some showing no difference in memory and cognitive functioning in migraine patients.

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