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Migraine, Stroke and Early Death in Women

Problem for patients: Numerous studies have documented that patients with migraine have increased risk for stroke, cardiovascular disease and early death; these findings have again been confirmed in a recent study published in the British Medical Journal: Migraine and risk of cardiovascular disease in women: prospective cohort study. BMJ 2016; 353 doi: (Published 31 May 2016). The New England Journal of Medicine's Journal Watch (June 1, 2016) gave bad advice in its associated article "Migraine in Women Associated with Cardiovascular Events, Mortality" by limiting the discussion to "aspirin therapy" to solve these complex problems.

Patients with migraine consistently show increased risk for:

  1. heart attack, myocardial infarction

  2. stroke

  3. chest pain, need for hospital revascularization

  4. cardiovascular death

Problems for patients and doctors: Drug treatment for migraine does not address the underlying problems that cause migraine, since the vast majority of drug treatments only aim to alleviate pain. This drug-focused approach leaves doctors unsuccessful in their treatment and leaves patients vulnerable to ongoing and future health problems.

Mechanisms: Mitochondrial dysfunction appears to be the core, primary defect that underlies migraine headaches, which can then be triggered by any number of a wide range of smaller triggers, ranging from emotional stress and hormonal fluctuations to consumption of allergenic foods and the sulfites in red wine and dried fruits. Hormonal fluctuations and food allergens can trigger glial inflammation (ie, brain inflammation) in patients that already have mitochondrial dysfunction. Likewise, the sulfites in wine and dried fruits (among other dietary triggers) can provoke migraine by exacerbating mitochondrial impairment; sulfite is a poison to the Krebs' cycle and perhaps also the mitochondrial electron transport chain. Very importantly, elevated homocysteine in the blood and brain contributes to both cardiovascular disease and brain neuron excitation (via NMDA receptor activation).

Solutions: A comprehensive protocol should be implemented to address the above-mentioned factors, as well as others.

Resources: Including the excerpts from Inflammation Mastery, 4th Edition