Migraines do not hurt your brain
Posted on: 13 Aug 2012
Washington: Migraines are not associated with cognitive decline, suggests new research even though previous studies have linked the disorder to increased stroke risk and structural brain lesions.
Migraines affect about 20 percent of the female population, and while these headaches are common, not much is known about this complex disease.
'Previous studies on migraines and cognitive decline were small and unable to identify a link between the two,' said Pamela Rist, research fellow in preventive medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), who led the study.
'Our study was large enough to draw the conclusion that migraines, while painful, are not strongly linked to cognitive decline,' said Rist, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) reports.
The research team analysed data from the Women's Health Study, a cohort of nearly 40,000 women, 45 years and older. In this study, researchers analysed data from 6,349 women who provided information about migraine status at baseline and then participated in cognitive testing during follow-up, according to a BWH statement.
Participants were classified into four groups: no history of migraine, migraine with aura (unpleasant smell, seeing flashing lights), migraine without aura, and past history of migraine. Cognitive testing was carried out in two-year intervals up to three times.
'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,' said Rist.
'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.'