There I was - sitting in a rather boring meeting, minding my own business (thank you very much) when a bolt of lightening split my skull with such force that I reached up looking for blood (surely if I hurt this badly there must be blood involved, right?). The florescent lights in the room began to shimmer and dance about like a mirage rising from the desert. I managed to make it outside the meeting room before becoming violently ill. I was hit (and I use the word literally) by a migraine, specifically a migraine with aura.
Migraines have to be the mother of all headaches. Not only is the pain debilitating, but migraines are often accompanied by nausea and vomiting as well as light sensitivity. A migraine with aura adds a whole new layer of misery to an already unbearable situation with additional symptoms such as the shimmering and dancing lights, vision loss, stars, zigzag lines in vision, confusion, numbness (especially in the face or in your hands or feet), difficulty speaking, and extreme skin sensitivity. If you’ve never had a migraine, then try to imagine the worst headache you’ve ever had times, oh say, a thousand (just to be on the conservative side) and you might come close to imagining what migraine is like for those who have them. If you’ve ever had a migraine, then you know what I’m talking about and you have my deepest sympathy.
As if migraines aren’t bad enough, they bring with them an increased risk of stroke and heart disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, migraine sufferers are more likely to suffer a stroke than are their non-migraine counterparts. This risk of stroke increases if you have high blood pressure, smoke, or take birth control pills. Now, researchers in Iceland indicate that those who have migraines with aura are at a greater risk not only of stroke but for dying of heart disease as well.
The Reykjavik Study was a long-term, large population study which was led by Larus Gudmundsson from the University of Iceland. Sponsored by the Icelandic Heart Association, the Reykjavik Study began in 1967.