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What is Migraine With Aura?

Posted by Migraine Relief Center on Mar 11, 2014 7:00:00 AM
Are women who suffer from migraines at greater risk of developing cardiovascular issues? This health inquiry was at the heart of two recent studies presented at the 65th annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology. These two studies shared a characteristic beyond focusing on female migraine patients: Both study groups also experienced visual auras that preclude their headache episodes. What does a migraine aura have to do with heart and blood vessel conditions?migraine with aura

Defining Migraine Auras

The migraine condition has been a bit of a mysterious puzzle for medical researchers for centuries. We know that the actual cephalalgia or painful phase of a migraine can be truly debilitating, and that is certainly a physiological episode. We are pretty much certain that migraines are vascular conditions that are more likely to affect women in a chronic manner. We also seem to grow out of migraines once we go past our middle ages, but our quality of life is bound to suffer considerably for decades before then.

Millions of migraine patients around the world suffer episodes without warning. A smaller percentage of migraine patients get a few strange warning symptoms prior to the onset of the actual headache. These symptoms are not necessarily painful, but they can create a great deal of anxiety. Medical researchers have identified these symptoms as the aura or prodrome phase of a migraine episode.

Experiencing Migraines With Auras

Those who are not aware of the migraine condition may think of auras as scary and fantastic events; however, the prodrome sensations are physiological. Auras tend to bring visual, behavioral and psychogenic effects such as:
  • Hemianopsia: Whereby a patient loses half of his or her field of vision.
  • Scintilla: Seeing flashes of light.
  • Fortification: Seeing lines that zigzag or undulate
  • Weakness
  • Hallucinations
  • Blind spots

The sensations above may continue from about five minutes to a half hour. The cephalalgia or headache phase typically follows, although in some cases it does not become manifest and just creates anxiety for the patient.

Prior research studies on female patients who suffer from migraine with aura have identified two risk factors: Genetics and obesity. The food, medication, scent, stress, and hormonal triggers typically associated with migraines are also present in episodes involving auras.

Some medical researchers believe that auras prove that migraines are more of a neurochemical condition than a purely vascular issue. However, the studies mentioned at the beginning of this article point to a connection between migraines and some vascular diseases. Women who suffer from migraine with auras are statistically at a higher risk of suffering a heart attack or a blood clot that may cause a stroke. To this effect, migraine patients who experience aura phases prior to their headaches should consider reducing their risk of high blood pressure and diabetes.

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Topics: Migraine

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