Migraines have always been linked to strokes and heart problems.
Now, a new study has found that migraines at middle age can increase the risk of Parkinson's disease and similar movement disorders at old age.
Migraine is a headache disorder that is often accompanied by headache, nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light.
Parkinson's disease is a nervous system disorder that leads to degeneration of nerve cells in the mid brain area called the substantia nigra, affecting the production of dopamine.
Dopamine is an important chemical neurotransmitter that performs several important functions in the body, including movement and balance. Dopamine deficiency, according to NHS Choices, is the main factor that leads to the condition. Muscle stiffness, tremor, difficulty in walking, problems with speaking and writing are some of the symptoms of the disease.
To analyse the link between migraines and Parkinson's, a team of researchers led by Dr Ann I. Scher monitored 5,620 people aged between 33 and 65, for 25 years. Participants were divided according to their headache status- headaches with aura (430), headaches without aura (238) headaches without migraine (1,028) and no headaches (3,924).
Migraines with aura, according to the migraine trust, is a common type of migraine where the migraine sufferers get some warning signs like memory changes, confusion, fear, changes in sight, speech and hearing problems, fainting, partial paralysis, memory changes, numbness, and dizziness, before a migraine episode.
Researchers analysed prevalence of Parkinson's disease or restless legs syndrome (RLS or Willis-Ekbom disease) among the participants.
A significant number of the people (2.4%) belonging to the headache with aura group suffered from Parkinson's than people without any headaches (1.1%). Similarly, symptoms of the disease were more common in the migraine with aura group (19.7%) than the migraine without aura (12.6%) and the zero headache (7.5%) groups.
In the study, suffering from migraines with aura nearly doubled Parkinson's risk.
"A dysfunction in the brain messenger dopamine is common to both Parkinson's and RLS, and has been hypothesized as a possible cause of migraine for many years. Symptoms of migraine such as excessive yawning, nausea and vomiting are thought to be related to dopamine receptor stimulation," author of the study Dr Scher, with Uniformed Services University in Bethesda in US, said in a news release.
"While the history of migraine is associated with an increased risk for Parkinson's, that risk is still quite low."
The study has been published in the online issue of Neurology.
Following are some other health complications linked to chronic migraine by previous studies and provided by CNN:
- Silent strokes
- Digestive problems, abdominal pain
- Cardiovascular events and thrombosis
- Changes in vision
- Hearing loss
- High blood pressure
- Bipolar disorder, anxiety and depression
- Low back pain
Parkinson's disease is a nervous system disorder that leads to degeneration of nerve cells in the mid brain area called substantia nigra, affecting the production of dopamine.