The Migraine Relief Center Blog

Here’s the latest from the Migraine Relief Center

Keep up with the doctors, patients, treatments—and results—from all our locations.

Migraines and Pre-Eclampsia: What You Need to Know

Posted by Migraine Relief Center on Aug 5, 2014 7:00:00 AM
recent news release issued by the American Heart Association (AHA) is groundbreaking in the sense that it marks the first time this major health non-profit has recommended guidelines for the prevention of strokes in women. As expected, women who suffer from chronic migraines with aura are believed to be at greater risk of stroke: however, a more alarming risk factor is being discussed by physicians: Pre-eclampsia.

The Migraine and Pre-Eclampsia Conundrum

Migraines_and_Pre-Eclampsia_What_You_Need_to_KnowPre-eclampsia can be defined as a stage during pregnancy that suggests a certain grade of abnormality. On the low end of the risk spectrum, pre-eclampsia involves some fluid retention and discomfort; the higher risks occur with pronounced hypertension. In the final trimester of their pregnancies, women who suffer from pre-eclampsia may experience a seizure and even blurry vision.

Despite the high blood pressure caused by pre-eclampsia, strokes are actually rare during pregnancies. However, the postpartum risk of stroke increases substantially, and women who suffer from this condition may have to take certain precautions as they get older.

Medical researchers have not pinpointed a specific cause of pre-eclampsia. Diabetic and obese women who become pregnant are more likely to be diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, but this condition has also been attributed to a physiological breakdown of the placenta. Treatment of pre-eclampsia often involves making sure that kidney and renal functions remain optimal throughout the pregnancy, which is something that can be accomplished with proper nutrition.

Women who suffer from chronic migraines are at no greater risk of being diagnosed with pre-eclampsia. Nonetheless, a major concern for these women is whether migraine episodes will affect them as they carry their babies to full term. This is impossible to predict, especially since many pregnant women do not get a single migraine episode until after they have delivered healthy babies. What worries gynecologists, obstetricians and migraine specialists is not being able to distinguish between a migraine episode triggered by pre-eclampsia and a hypertensive attack.

How to Tell Migraines and Pre-Eclampsia Apart

Some of the symptoms of pre-eclampsia are similar to those experienced by migraine patients:
  • Vision disturbances
  • Anxiety
  • Shoulder pain
  • Nausea
  • Confusion

A few of the symptoms above can be confused with the onset of an aura leading to a migraine episode, but physicians will not take their chances with pregnant patients. In general, it is safer to rule out a migraine attack for the purpose of treating the patient for a possible bout of pre-eclampsia.

As mentioned before, strokes are not common during pregnancies, but there is a high risk of miscarriage if pre-eclampsia is not properly intervened. To this effect, patients are often counseled about the possibility of a cesarean section delivery. In the end, only delivering the baby will put a full stop to pre-eclampsia, but this will not have an effect on migraines.

For migraine patients who suffered from pre-eclampsia during their pregnancies, quality of life is essential for the purpose of preventing future strokes. This means closely following a treatment strategy to avoid migraines and living a healthy lifestyle.

*Image courtesy of

migraine diary

Share this on social media:

Topics: Treatment

Feel free to leave a comment below.