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Migraines and headaches present no risk to cognitive function
Date:1/19/2011

Recent work, in particular the CAMERA study, has used MRI to study the brains of migraine sufferers and has shown that a higher proportion of these patients exhibit lesions of the brain microvessels than the rest of the population.

Lesions of the brain microvessels

Lesions of the brain microvessels, visible on cerebral MRI images, can be of various kinds: white-matter hyperintensities and, more rarely, silent infarcts leading to loss of white-matter tissue.

They result from a deterioration of the small cerebral arteries that supply blood to the brain's white matter, the material which ensures, among other things, the passage of information between different parts of the brain.

These lesions are observed in almost all elderly people. However, their severity varies greatly from one individual to the next. Moreover, it has been shown that they are more severe among hypertension sufferers and diabetics.

A large quantity of hyperintensities leads to many cerebral complications: cognitive deterioration, increased risk of Alzheimer's disease, depression, movement disorders and increased risk of stroke.

Moreover, 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
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Contact: Sverine Ciancia
presse@inserm.fr
INSERM (Institut national de la sant et de la recherche mdicale)
Source:Eurekalert

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