Migraine Tied to Brain Injury in Older Adults

New research shows that older adults with migraine have a greater risk of a certain type of brain injury known as subclinical brain infarction.

Subclinical brain infarction is a blockage of blood to the brain area that can affect a person both neurologically (impeding their movement) and cognitively (altering their brain function),causing the affected tissues to die. These brain injuries are more common in older adults and can result in a stroke, which can produce some rather serious and life-impeding negative side effects such as difficulty speaking, paralysis, and even death.

In a study from the University of Miami, researchers discovered that older adults suffering from migraine headaches had a 50% greater risk of eventually suffering from this type of brain injury. The study included 546 individuals with a mean age of 71. Overall, 41% were male and approximately 75% of were Hispanic.

Some Questions Remain

Although the findings present a possible connection between migraines and subclinical brain infarction, researchers said this does not establish causality. Additionally, they recommend that more studies be conducted in regard to race and ethnicity to see if these are factors as well.

Treatment for Brain Infractions and Migraine

The symptoms of a brain infarction are similar to other types of brain injury, including: headaches; changes in personality, mood or behavior; memory loss or confusion; nausea or vomiting; fever; or difficulty moving.

If you suspect that you or a loved one has suffered from a brain infarction or other injury, it's important to seek medical attention as soon as possible to ensure you're receiving adequate rehabilitation.

Many chiropractors are trained to spot the signs of brain injuries, and can connect you with appropriate healthcare providers. Chiropractors can also offer safe and effective treatment of migraines in older adults searching for a drug-free way to manage their pain.

Monteith, T, et al. Migraine, White Matter Hyperintensities, and Subclinical Brain Infarction in a Diverse Community: The Northern Manhattan Study. Stroke. May 15, 2014.