Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Migraines & Headaches Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Migraines, Brain Lesions: New Links Seen

Study Shows Higher Risk of Brain Lesions for Women Who Have Migraines With Aura
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

June 23, 2009 -- Women who experience migraine headaches with aura may be more likely to develop brain lesions when they are older, according to a new study.

Researchers say the results add to a growing number of studies that suggest migraines may be more than a transient condition and may cause long-term damage in the form of cell death and lesions in the brain over time.

Migraine headaches are a common problem, affecting about 11% of adults and three to four times as many women than men. About one-third of those who suffer the painful headaches experience aura -- visual or sensory disturbances just prior to the migraine.

The study, published in TheJournal of the American Medical Association, looked at the association between midlife migraines and brain lesions later in life among 4,689 men and women in Iceland who have been followed since 1967. The participants were interviewed about migraine symptoms in midlife and received brain scans 26 years later.

Brain lesions were found in 39% of men and 25% of women. After adjusting for other risk factors, such as age, heart disease, and stroke risk, researchers found that women who had migraines with aura during midlife were more likely to have brain lesions in the cerebellum part of the brain. Twenty-three percent of women with migraine with aura had these types of brain lesions, compared with 15% of women without headaches.

There was no such association between migraine with aura and brain lesions in men.

Researcher Ann I. Scher, PhD, of Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Md. and colleagues say further long-term studies are needed to better establish this relationship between migraine with aura and brain lesions and determine the mechanism behind the link.

An editorial that accompanies the study also urges caution in interpreting these results.

"It is premature to conclude that migraine has hazardous effects on the brain," write Tobias Kurth, MD, ScD, of the University Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris and Christophe Tzourio, MD, PhD, of the University Pierre et Marie Curie and Harvard School of Public Health, Boston in the editorial.

"However," the editorial notes, "the study raises important questions. New studies examining the association of migraine with structural brain changes and brain function should improve understanding of the associations and perhaps further unveil migraine-specific mechanisms."

Today on WebMD

Business woman with hand on face and eyes closed
What aura looks like, triggers, and more.
woman with migraine
Get the truth about migraines.
 
headache in the bedroom
Keep headaches from ruining your sex life.
woman with hands on head
Test your knowledge of triggers, types, and more.
 
woman with migraine
Quiz
drinking coffee
Article
 
Migraines Headaches Basics
Article
acupuncture needles in woman's back
Slideshow
 
Tired young man
Slideshow
spraying perfume
Article
 
man with a headache
Article
headache in the bedroom
Article