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article imageMigraines are painful but don't harm brain function

By Darren Weir     Aug 12, 2012 in Health
Boston - If you have ever suffered a migraine you know the excruciating pain that sometimes feels like your brain is about to explode. But now researchers have discovered that migraines don't appear to cause any impairment of cognitive abilities.
The study focused on the effects of migraines on women, since one in five suffer the massive headaches (compared with about 10% of men). But Medical Net says while previous studies have suggested there could be an increased risk of stroke and structural brain lesions, the new research from Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), migraines are not associated with cognitive decline.
Dr. Pamela Rist, lead author of the study tells Medical Net, "Previous studies on migraines and cognitive decline were small and unable to identify a link between the two. Our study was large enough to draw the conclusion that migraines, while painful, are not strongly linked to cognitive decline."
This study, published online by the British Medical Journal (BMJ), analysed data from 6,349 women, aged 45-years and over, who provided information about migraines; whether they had ever suffered the affliction, past history of migraines, migraines with aura and migraines without aura. The subjects underwent cognitive testing up to three times in two year intervals.
Dr. Rist tells Medical Net, "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." "This is an important finding for both physicians and patients. Patients with migraine and their treating doctors should be reassured that migraine may not have long term consequences on cognitive function."
Medical Daily reports though, that researchers did find some changes in older women with a past history of migraine suggesting that they had faster rates of cognitive decline than younger women.
The Toronto Sun reports that while the results suggest migraines don't have long-term consequences like dementia or cognitive decline, there is still a lot of evidence that links migraines to an increased risk of stroke, which does impair cognitive ability.
The study concludes that there is still a lot that is unknown about migraines and more research needs to be done to understand the effects of migraine headaches on the brain and to improve treatments.
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