Chronic migraines linked to greater risk of dementia

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Researchers say the findings are especially true for women

A new study has explored the relationship between migraine diagnoses and dementia. Researchers found that the two could be very closely linked, particularly for women. 

After studying a population of migraine sufferers compared with non-migraine sufferers, the research team found that female migraine sufferers are at an increased risk of later developing cognitive problems, especially as they get older. 

“Several biological and clinical hypotheses may explain the association between migraine headaches and dementia,” said researcher Dr. Louis Jacob. “For example, migraine headaches involve chronic pain, which has been found to substantially impact the risk of memory decline and dementia. As women usually have more severe migraine attacks, the risk of dementia in women with migraine could be higher than in men with migraine.” 

How migraines affect memory

To get a better understanding of how migraines could affect consumers’ memories down the road, the researchers conducted a study that included over 7,400 participants between the ages of 60 and 80; half of the test group had regular migraines while the other half had no history of migraines. 

Ultimately, the researchers wanted to see if a migraine diagnosis could impact the likelihood of developing dementia within 10 years of said diagnosis, independent of any other medical issues the participants might have had.

At the end of the study, over five percent of all participants with migraines had been diagnosed with dementia, while just over 3.5 percent of those without migraines received the same diagnosis. 

However, the researchers broke those stats down further and found that the association between migraines and dementia was greatest among female participants, as nearly six percent of women who suffered from migraines later developed dementia. 

“Our results indicate that elderly people with migraine headaches should be regularly screened for cognitive decline and dementia,” the researchers wrote. “Furthermore, offering adequate treatment and management to migraine patients is important, as it may help prevent the subsequent development of dementia.” 

Keeping an eye on migraines

Migraine pain can often be debilitating for frequent sufferers, and a recent study has found that it can sometimes lead to more serious health complications for women.

Researchers found that women who suffer from migraines are 50 percent more likely to have a heart attack, stroke, or some kind of cardiovascular issue. 

While it’s still unclear why this phenomenon exists, researchers say that managing factors like caffeine intake and weight loss can help ease migraine pain and improve overall quality of life. 

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