Headache, stress
Suffering from migraines increases risk of “silent strokes,” researchers reveal.Stefan Neuweger/Flickr

Suffering from migraines at old age increases risk of "silent strokes," researchers reveal.

In the study, having a past history of headache doubled a person's risk of getting silent strokes or ischemic silent brain infarction. The symptomless brain injury occurs when blood clot is formed and disrupts proper blood flow to the brain.

Migraine is a headache disorder that is often accompanied by headache, nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light. Migraines can be either chronic or episodic. Chronic migraine occurs when a person experiences headache for 15 or more days a month for three months, of which eight carry the symptoms of migraines. In episodic migraine, headache occurs only less than 15 days a month.

The study looked at 546 people, both men (41 percent) and women, aged around 71. People, belonging to different ethnicities, including Hispanic (65 percent) and African - Americans, normally considered at higher risk of strokes, were included in the study. Of the total, nearly 104 suffered from migraines.

At the end of the study, researchers found a direct link between migraines and silent strokes. People with migraine had double risk of suffering from the brain injury than those without a history of migraine.

Importantly, prevalence of high blood pressure was higher among migraine patients. Many studies in the past have linked even slight increase in blood pressure to strokes.

Findings of the new study, reported in the journal Stroke, are particularly important as silent strokes have long been known to increase the risk of getting strokes in the future.

Though the risk is comparatively low, researchers recommended patients to take proper precautions and remain safe.

"I do not believe migraine sufferers should worry, as the risk of ischemic stroke in people with migraine is considered small," lead author of the study, Teshamae Monteith, from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said in a news release. "However, those with migraine and vascular risk factors may want to pay even greater attention to lifestyle changes that can reduce stroke risk, such as exercising and eating a low-fat diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables."

Additionally, according to the researchers, an attempt to reduce severity and number of migraines can also be highly beneficial.

Following are some tips provided by MedlinePlus that help treat and prevent migraines:

  • Take rest in a silent, dark room
  • Take lots of water
  • Put a piece of cool cloth on the head
  • Pain killers like acetaminophen, aspirin or ibuprofen can be used to treat if the migraine is mild
  • Keep a headache diary to identify factors that trigger your headache
  • Exercise regularly
  • Try to get proper sleep
  • Decrease caffeine intake
  • Manage stress through relaxation exercise and meditation
  • Avoid certain foods that trigger migraines – red wine, chicken liver, avocado and food additives (monosodium glutamate (MSG)