STUDY: Migraines Might Mean You Have Risk Of Heart Disease
Written by: Angelique Johnson
Do you suffer from migraines? You’re not alone.
Migraines are the 6th most disabling illness in the world; nearly 1 in 4 households in the United States has someone that is affected by them. Women are affected 3 to 4 times more often than men for unknown reasons.
A migraine is not just a headache. In fact, it is a unbearable collection of neurological symptoms. When you suffer a migraine, you typically experience a severe, recurring throbbing pain usually on one side of your head anywhere from about 4 to 72 hours. Sometimes, both sides of the head are affected.
Migraines can sometimes be followed or accompanied by:
- Visual disturbances
- Extreme sensitivity to sound, light, touch and smell
- Tingling or numbness in your face or body
The aura is a collection of symptoms that include seeing flashing light, experiencing blind spots, losing balance and experiencing confusion. This particular symptom is important because new research has shown that women who suffer migraines, especially those that have migraines with aura, are at an increased risk of stroke.
Previous research has shown that migraines are associated with heart health, but the link has not been entirely understood. The connection has been even more difficult to understand because migraines tend to peak between the ages of 25 and 55 and decreased heart health is usually seen with older age.
A study published in the British Medical Journal sought to investigate the link between migraines and heart disease. Scientists in both the United States and Germany analyzed data from 115,541 women that were enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study II.
Women were excluded from the migraine observational study if they had any presence of angina or other heart disease. The women, who were between the ages of 25 and 42, had their health charted from the year 1989 to 2011.
Of the total study population, 17,531 subjects (15.2%) reported that they suffered from migraines at the beginning of the study. During the next 22 years, 1,329 women (36.4%) experienced some sort of cardiovascular event (678 from myocardial infarctions, 651 from strokes and 203 angina/coronary revascularization procedures) and 223 died from heart disease.
These results found that women who suffer from migraines have an increased risk heart disease and death from the disease. They found that this risk was 50% higher in women who had migraines compared to those who did not. The results were also still valid even when the study adjusted for factors such as smoking, age, high blood pressure, postmenopausal hormone therapy and birth control use.
Although these results should not be cause for alarm, the researchers agree that adding migraines to the list of early-life medical conditions that could predict heart disease later on in life is necessary.
What You Can Do To Prevent Migraines
1. Avoid Loud Noises And Bright, Flashing Lights
Loud noises and strobing lights are sensory stimulations that are common triggers for migraine headaches. Some examples would be driving at night, going to the movie theaters, attending crowded venues or clubs, or too much glare from the sun.
Take breaks from watching television or looking at the computer screen to give your eyes a rest. Turning down the brightness on digital devices can also help to prevent a migraine.
2. Pay Attention To What You Eat
Many foods can trigger migraines, so it’s important to be aware of what you’re eating and what foods affect you the most.
Some of the most common food related migraine triggers are:
- Red wine
- Dark alcohols
- Artificial sweeteners
- Processed meats
- Caffeinated beverages
3. Keep A Migraine Diary
By keeping a record of what triggers your migraines, you can better keep track of what to do to avoid them. Keep a small notepad with you and when you feel a migraine coming on, write what you were eating, where you were, what time of day it was, what the lighting conditions were, etc.
4. Take Magnesium
Magnesium deficiency has be shown to contribute to migraines. Taking a daily supplement can help reduce the occurrence of them. Take 250mg of magnesium oxide every other day and see if you experience any improvement.
5. Eat On A Regular Schedule
Fasting or skipping meals can actually trigger migraine headaches. It is important that you eat within one hour of waking up every morning and then eat every three to four hours after that. If you don’t like to eat breakfast in the morning, try making a delicious smoothie. Some people prefer to drink their breakfast! Dehydration can also cause migraines, so make sure to drink 8 to 10 glasses of water per day.
6. Make Lavender Lemonade
One of my favorite ways to get rid of headaches and migraines is by making Lavender Lemonade. This recipe uses the powers of lavender essential oil; studies have shown that lavender has successfully helped up to 71% of subjects who suffered from migraines find relief.
What do you think about this new information about migraines being linked to heart disease? Let me know in the comments below and please don’t forget to share on social media!
- 1 cup raw honey
- 12 cups water
- 1 drop lavender essential oil
- 6 lemons, peeled and juiced
- Mix all the ingredients together and chill.
- Add more water or raw honey if needed.
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Angelique Johnson is a nutritionist from Miami, FL. Through her own journey in weight loss, she discovered her love for health and nutrition and realized she wanted to help others achieve a healthier lifestyle. Angelique has been featured as a nutrition consult on CBS4 Miami News and is a published author on many online health sites. She is passionate about debunking diet rumors and showing her clients how to have a healthy, balanced relationship with food.
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