Many of us are familiar enough with migraines to feel comfortable with self-diagnosis. If it sounds like a migraine to us, it is probably a migraine. This is not always a safe assumption. Your headache may be secondary to another medical condition that needs attention. If you are currently receiving treatment for migraines and you know what your symptoms are, you can proceed with your headache management plan.
If you haven’t had migraines in the past, it’s not a sign that your headaches are migraine-related. Your headaches could be a sign of a more serious medical condition, such as stroke. Even if your headaches are caused by migraines, you should discuss your treatment options with your doctor.
This is the key takeaway: Get any severe headache examined by a physician until you have a treatment plan and a diagnosis. More evidence is emerging to support a link between migraine and stroke. Research is underway in Iceland to examine the relationship between migraine headaches and stroke in mid-life. At the Meeting of the American Neurological Association, preliminary results were presented.
Research shows that people with migraines in their mid-life are more likely than those who suffer from strokes in their later years. This is especially true if the migraine is accompanied by visual aura. This is a reminder not to take migraine headaches as a given, to be aware that stroke symptoms can also be present, and to be open to talking to your doctor if your migraine symptoms or patterns have changed.
A possible link between migraine headaches, heart conditions and migraine sufferers is being investigated. This could be good news. Patent foramen ovale (PFO), a common heart defect, leaves a small, flapping opening between the upper chambers of your heart. Doctors discovered a possible link between this condition and migraine headaches when they noticed that patients who had had their PFO surgically closed reported a reduction or elimination of migraines.
The current study is underway to determine if treating PFO can improve migraines in a new patient group. They will also determine if this treatment is best for certain types of migraine patients.