Women with migraines did not appear to experience a decline in cognitive ability over time compared to those who didn't have them, according to a nine-year follow up study funded by the National Institutes of Health.
The study also showed that women with migraine had a higher likelihood of having brain changes that appeared as bright spots on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a type of imaging commonly used to evaluate tissues of the body.
"The fact that there is no evidence of cognitive loss among these women is good news," said Linda Porter, Ph.D., pain health science policy advisor in the Office of the Director at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), which provided funding for the study. "We've known for a while that women with migraine tend to have these brain changes as seen on MRI. This nine-year study is the first of its kind to provide long-term follow-up looking for associated risk."
"An important message from the study is that there seems no need for more aggressive treatment or prevention of attacks," said Mark C. Kruit, M.D., Ph.D., one of the principal investigators, and a neuroradiologist from Leiden University Medical Center, the Netherlands, which led the study. Dr. Kruit and associates evaluated MRIs for changes in the white matter, brainstem, and cerebellum that appeared on the scans as bright spots known as hyperintensities. Previous studies have shown an association between such hyperintensities and risk factors for atherosclerotic disease, increased risk of stroke and cognitive decline.
The extent of MRI brain findings increased slightly with time, according to the population-based study that tracked 286 men and women with and without migraines.
Men with migraines had no greater incidence of such changes compared with age-and sex-matched controls. Although female participants with migraine in this study were more likely to have hyperintensities, there was no clear relation to the frequ
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NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke