If you suffer with migraine auras, you may have concerns surrounding the suggestion by some researchers that you may also be at an increased risk of developing brain lesions.
However, Dr Christoph Diener, MD, PhD, a neurologist from the University of Essen in Germany, has recently presented research by Rist and colleagues at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, that shows cognitive decline in women suffering with varying types of migraines is no different from that of those who do not suffer with migraines.
It is known that women who have severe migraine auras sometimes show white-matter lesions on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans; but the question of whether migraine is a risk factor for vascular dementia in later life still remained.
This question was addressed in a study recently published in the British Medical Journal, where data from the Women’s Health Study – which was initiated in 1992 and recruited almost 40,000 women who worked in the healthcare system – were examined for any association between migraine and cognitive decline in 6349 of the women in the study.
The women underwent cognitive testing, repeated every 2 years (up to 3 times), and the results showed that migraine status (including migraine with aura, migraine without aura, or history of migraine) was not associated with faster rates of cognitive decline than in those who do not suffer with migraines.
Nevertheless, Dr Diener advises that women who have severe migraine auras should address any other vascular risk factors that are present, such as stopping smoking or treating high blood pressure.