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Migraine Not Linked to Mental Decline

Aug 12, 2012 07:27 AM EDT

A new study suggests that there is no link between migraine and mental decline.

Migraine is a type of headache that may occur due to abnormal activity in the brain. It is a chronic disorder wherein patients face moderate to severe headache on one side of the head. It occurs with warning symptoms like aura, nausea or vomiting. Aura is a perceptual disturbance where a patient may have vision disturbances like seeing a flash of light which will be followed by a severe headache.

Migraines normally occur in more women than men. It may also run in families. Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston conducted a health survey for around from 6,349 women participants aged 45 and above. The participants were split into four groups - women with a past history of migraine, no history of migraine, migraine with aura and migraine without aura.   

The participants were tested for cognitive function three times in two-year intervals. Researchers found that the there was no link between migraines and mental decline, while earlier studies have suggested that migraines may have an impact on increased risk of stroke, brain lesions and cognitive decline.

"Compared with women with no history of migraine, those who experienced migraine with or without aura did not have significantly different rates of cognitive decline," Pamela Rist, who led the study, explained in a statement from Brigham and Women's Hospital, reported LiveScience.

"Previous studies on migraines and cognitive decline were small and unable to identify a link between the two," Rist added. "Our study was large enough to draw the conclusion that migraines, while painful, are not strongly linked to cognitive decline."

Although migraine is believed to be caused by abnormal brain activity, there isn't much data about migraine headaches. Hormones that fluctuate could also possibly play a significant role in causing the headache.

Experts believe that when migraine occurs, it attacks the brain first involving the nerve pathways. It may affect the blood flow in the brain. They believe that more research work needs to done to understand the impact of such severe headaches on the brain and find out possible methods for its treatment.

The findings of the study are published in the BritishMedical Journal.

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