Migraines can cause debilitating pain when they hit, and regular sufferers know it can be hard for the headaches to pass.
However, a new study found that for migraine sufferers with obesity, losing weight can not only decrease headaches but also improve overall quality of life.
“If you suffer from migraine headaches and are obese, losing weight will ameliorate the quality of your family and social life as well as your work and school productivity,” said researcher Dr. Claudio Pagano. “Your overall quality of life will greatly improve.”
Starting to feel better
The researchers examined how weight loss affected migraines by analyzing 10 different studies that included nearly 500 participants.
In all of the studies, the participants either underwent bariatric surgery to lose weight or changed their eating/exercise habits. Additionally, all of the studies included information about pain severity, frequency, and how long a migraine would typically last.
The researchers found that in all of the studies, losing weight led to less frequent migraines, less severe migraines, and migraines that didn’t persist as long as usual.
“Weight loss in adults and children with obesity greatly improves migraine headache by improving all the main features that worsen migraineurs’ quality of life,” Dr. Pagano said. “When people lose weight, the number of days per month with migraine decreases, as does pain severity and headache attack duration.”
The study also revealed that how participants went about losing weight, whether surgical or not, did not affect the results. There was also no minimum weight loss necessary to see positive migraine-related results.
“Weight loss reduces the impact of conditions associated with obesity, including diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, and respiratory diseases,” said Dr. Pagano. “Obesity and migraine are common in industrialized countries. Improving quality of life and disability for these patients will greatly impact these populations and reduce direct and indirect healthcare costs.”
Other health risks
While obesity is linked to several health concerns, one recent study found that migraines could be more than what they appear. Researchers found that women who experience migraines have a greater risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular issues.
“Our analysis suggests that migraine should be considered an important risk marker for cardiovascular disease, particularly in women,” said researcher Tobias Kurth.