Migraines, headaches 'do not increase risk of cognitive decline'

Washington, Jan 20 (ANI): A study - using MRI to study the brains of migraine sufferers - has shown that a higher proportion of these patients exhibit lesions of the brain microvessels than the rest of the population.

According to several studies, the presence of a large quantity of this type of brain lesion increases the risk of cognitive deterioration (reasoning, memory, etc.) and of Alzheimer's disease. This is why the research team coordinated by Christophe Tzourio, director of the Inserm-Universit‚ Pierre et Marie Curie Mixed Research Unit 708 "Neuroepidemiology", advanced the hypothesis that migraines could "damage" the brain.

To test this hypothesis, the researchers evaluated the impact of migraine on cognitive function. The team used the EVA study-group of individuals aged over 65 years, recruited from the general population in Nantes, and monitored them over a 10-year period.

Cerebral MRI was performed on more than 800 of the participants and these individuals were also questioned about their headaches by a neurologist.

The cognitive tests performed, involved an evaluation of the volunteers orientation in time and space, their short-term memory and their capacity and speed to correctly carry out specific tasks.

The results show that 21 pc of people suffer or have suffered from severe headaches over the course of their lives. For more than 70 pc of these, this involves migraines, some of which are with aura. The MRI scans for those participants having severe headaches confirm that they are twice as likely to have a large quantity of microvascular brain lesions as subjects without headaches.

In contrast, the cognitive scores were identical for individuals with or without severe headaches and for those having or not having cerebral microvascular lesions.

Among participants having a migraine with aura (2pc of the total sample), a specific increase in silent cerebral infarcts and certain lesions was observed, hence confirming previous studies, but without detectable cognitive harm.

"This is a very reassuring result for the many people who suffer from migraine. In spite of the increased presence of lesions of the brain microvessels, this disorder does not increase the risk of cognitive decline. Therefore, we have not observed negative consequences of migraine on the brain ", concludes Tobias Kurth, lead author of the study, who designed and carried out these analyses. (ANI)

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