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Hemiplegic Migraine Headaches

What Medical Tests Are Used to Diagnose Hemiplegic Migraine Headaches?

If you have any of the symptoms of hemiplegic migraine, see your doctor for a full evaluation. This is a serious form of migraine and many of its symptoms are also signs of a stroke. Tests to look for signs of a stroke may include a CT scan or MRI of the head. An exam may also include tests of the heart and blood vessels in your neck to evaluate whether your symptoms may be caused by blood clots forming in the heart or blood vessels in the neck.

Genetic testing is available for hemiplegic migraine. If you have a family member with similar symptoms, or if you test positive for one of the genetic defects linked to hemiplegic migraine, you maybe diagnosed with "familial" hemiplegic migraine. That means it runs in your family, and you most likely could pass it on to your children. If you don't test positive, your condition is called sporadic hemiplegic migraine.

How Are Hemiplegic Migraine Headaches Treated?

There is disagreement over how to treat hemiplegic migraines. There is also disagreement about the safety and effectiveness of standard migraine medications. Generally, the class of migraine drugs called triptans is avoided. But your doctor may prescribe other medications to treat severe attacks and prevent future episodes. Treatment may include:

  • Preventive medications. Your doctor may prescribe an anticonvulsant medication or calcium channel blocker to help reduce the number and severity of future attacks.
  • Acute medications. Treatment for severe attacks may include intravenous valproic acid or magnesium sulfate.

 

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Richard Senelick, MD on August 29, 2012

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