Thursday, May 1, 2008

Migraines Linked to Stroke and Heart Attacks in Women

An interesting study in the January 2008 issue of Cephalagia revealed that women who had migraines more than once per week had nearly three times higher risk of ischemic stroke and 1.5 times more risk of heart attack as compared to women without migraines. Even having migraines once per month or less was associated with a 1.5 times increased risk of stroke or heart attack. The authors state that further research is needed to determine if migraine prevention reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases. 

My feeling is that even if migraines were controlled with aggressive dietary modifications and pharmacologic agents, there will be minimal to no improvement in the incidence of the risk of heart attack or stroke. My logic is as follows: Migraine is a common feature in people with sleep-breathing disorders. It's especially more common in women (and men) who have upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS), which is a variation/precursor of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Obstructive sleep apnea is known to be linked to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. In my experience, allowing people to sleep better (by breathing better at night) usually improves migraines, as well as the effects of OSA. So covering up a migraine headache with medications will not address the cause, which is inefficient sleep due to breathing problems at night. I discuss the reasons for this in detail in my forthcoming book, Sleep, Interrupted.

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