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Are Women Who Have Migraines at Risk for Cognitive Decline?

By Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch HERWriter
 
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Are Women Who Have Migraines at Risk for Cognitive Decline? 4 5 5
Do women with migraines have more risk for cognitive decline?
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About 10 percent of people worldwide suffer from a type of headache called migraines, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Some people who have migraines may have an aura beforehand — a group of symptoms that warn that the headache is about to occur.

Aura symptoms include speech and language problems, vision loss, sensation changes, like pins and needles, on the limbs, and visual phenomena.

About 33 percent of individuals with migraines have an aura, noted the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

When an individual has a migraine, the symptoms can last between 4 and 72 hours if she does not get treatment. These symptoms include pain on one side of the head that is throbbing, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.

Some individuals may have blurred vision, lightheadedness, and sensitivity to sounds, lights and smells.

Women have migraines much more frequently than men, up to three times more, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

One concern among women who have migraines is if they are at risk for cognitive decline. Abnormal brain activity causes migraines, but the exact mechanism is not known.

Researchers looked at data from the Women’s Health Study to see whether women who have migraines have a faster rate of cognitive decline compared to women who have never had a migraine.

The study included 6349 women, with 853 of these women reported having a migraine. Of those 853 women, 410 women had a past history of a migraine, 248 women had migraines without an aura, and 195 women had migraines with an aura. The women in the study were ages 65 and over.

At baseline, researchers gathered data on the women’s migraine history. Cognitive assessment was administered via the telephone, with the participants’ migraine status being hidden from the interviewer.

Five tests were given, which were compiled to create a global cognitive score. The mean time for the follow-up was 3.4 years.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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