I’m all about networking and making connections. This, however, is one connection I can do without – migraines and heart disease. I have suffered with migraine headaches since I was in my early 20s. The debilitating kind – flashing light, extreme sensitivity to light, pain that makes me want to chop my head off. One of the worst I ever had was, believe it or not, while my father was being treated for a heart condition in the hospital. I was with my mother and sister in his room and all of a sudden the lightning bolts appeared in my eyes and the pain started. Then the nausea came and before I knew it I was vomiting in the bathroom. The next thing I remember is that I was in the emergency room as a patient! Not fun.
So news like this hits me hard: A study released today by the American Academy of Neurology shows that women who suffer from migraines with visual disturbances like flashing lights, called aura, may be at a higher risk for heart attack and stroke. According to study author Dr. Tobias Kurth, of INSERM, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, “After high blood pressure, migraine with aura was the second strongest single contributor to risk of heart attacks and strokes.”
[A second study found that women who suffer from migraines with aura and who use newer forms of birth control may have a greater risk of blood clots.]
Dr. Kurth’s initial recommendation based on the study: those with aura migraines should try to make changes in their lives associated with a lower risk of heart attack or stroke — not smoking, keeping their weight down, reducing their blood pressure and exercising.
The findings will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology Conference in San Diego, March 16-23, 2013.
The frequency and severity of my migraine headaches have lessened since I began living a healthier, more fulfilled life. Along with Dr. Kurth’s suggestions, I would advise individuals who suffer from migraines to eliminate sugar and gluten from their diet and see how that effects their headaches. A dairy allergy/sensitivity could also contribute to frequency and severity of migraine headaches.
This latest research is yet another reminder that everything about our well-being is connected.
If you suffer from migraines, I encourage you to take a look at how you are living your life – eating habits, stress, physical activity, etc. All of these components contribute to your health and wellness. Just because a study makes the connection between migraines and heart attacks doesn’t mean it is inevitable that one will lead to the other. Your actions today will affect your health tomorrow.