Tuesday, January 15, 2008

wake up

The following is yet another wake-up call for those who still refuse to believe that Migraine is, in fact, more than just a nagging headache. Oh, and that we patients, who enter the ER, or office with our heads banging, quite literally, are there for a reason: we are desperate for answers. Yes, answers. We are not drug-seekers; though (a small number of) you may view us as such. In truth, we really just want the pain to go away. Here is a fear of mine:

MAGNUM, The National Migraine Association, has an excellent mission statement. One section of it reads:

"To make persons aware that Migraine is not a benign disorder. For example, 27% of all strokes suffered by persons under the age of 45 are caused by Migraine. (Stroke is the third leading cause of death in this country.) In fact, more people died from Migrainous stroke last year than were murdered by handguns."

Migraine and Stroke People who suffer with migraine headaches may have an 80 percent higher risk of stroke than those who don't have the painful headaches. Stroke is the third-leading killer in the United States. Compounding the problem is that the term "migraine" is one of the most frequently overused medical words. Migraine sufferers have complained that they encountered skepticism from doctors when first suggesting they might be experiencing migraine headaches... Recognizing early stroke symptoms also is important. Some of the warning signs of stroke include sudden loss of vision or blurred vision, particularly in one eye; sudden difficulty speaking or understanding simple statements; sudden numbness, weakness or paralysis of the limbs or face; unexplained dizziness or loss of coordination. You need immediate medical attention if those symptoms develop."

A point on which there is general agreement is that migrainous stroke risk is increased in the presence of untreated migraine and other risk factors:

"Long-term migraine without treatment has been shown to predispose sufferers to increased effect on the blood vessels of the brain, especially in those with signs of migraine with aura (classical migraine). Persons who have visual or neurological symptoms accompanying their migraine attacks should avoid other risk factors such as smoking, high cholesterol diets, the use of estrogen and untreated hypertension. These risk factors for cerebral vascular disease, if present in a setting of migraine, may greatly increase the risk of one having a migraine related stroke."

2 Stephen D. Silberstein, M.D., Richard B. Lipton, M.D., Donald J. Dalessio, M.D., Wolff's Headache and Other Head Pain. (New York, Oxford University Press, 2001) 207-211.
3 Michael John Coleman, Terri Miller Burchfield of M.A.G.N.U.M. An Understanding of Migraine Disease & Tips for Migraine Management.http://www.migraines.org/myth/mythreal.htm
Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications & the Library at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. http://www3.utsouthwestern.edu/library/consumer/migrain.htm
The National Headache Foundation: Topic Sheetshttp://www.headaches.org/topicsheets/stroke.html
ACHE: The American Council for Headache Education: When a Nasty Headache Comes Back.http://www.achenet.org/news/art3.php


Angela Solomon: mom2girlsgirlsgirls: said...

Yikes! I had no idea!

I've stopped calling my daughter's symptoms "atypical migraines" (though that's what her dizzy/nausea episodes technically are) because too many people thought she "just had headaches."

Hey! I've got it! No on is heretofore allowed to use the word "just" with other serious symptoms! "Just" a headache, "just" a little joint pain, just just just.

I hope you're feeling better!

deborah said...

tell me about it. I still get it - ALL the time!! Cracks me up. In a sort of postal way

Migraineur said...

One minor bone to pick with the mission statement. High cholesterol diets are not a risk factor for stroke. High blood cholesterol is. But high blood cholesterol is not caused by high cholesterol diets; your liver makes way more cholesterol than you could ever consume, and if you consume less cholesterol, your liver just makes up for the shortfall.

Stroke Risk Factors