-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Aug. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Migraine sufferers are more
likely than other people to have an incomplete network of arteries
that supply blood to the brain, researchers have found.
It was once believed that migraines were caused by dilation of
blood vessels in the brain, while more recently it has been
attributed to abnormal brain signal activity. This study suggests
that blood vessels play a different role than previously
An incomplete network of arteries may increase a person's
susceptibility to changes in brain blood flow, contributing to the
abnormal brain signal activity that triggers migraines, according
to the University of Pennsylvania researchers.
For the study, the investigators used a special MRI method to
measure changes in blood flow in the brain, as well as magnetic
resonance angiography to examine blood vessel structure.
"People with migraines actually have differences in the structure of their blood vessels -- this is something you are born with," study lead author Dr. Brett Cucchiara, an associate professor of neurology, said in a university news release.
"These differences seem to be associated with changes in blood flow in the brain, and it's possible that these changes may trigger migraine, which may explain why some people, for instance, notice that dehydration triggers their headaches," Cucchiara said.
The study included 170 people in three groups: those with no
headaches, those with migraines with aura and those with migraines
without aura. An incomplete network of arteries in the brain was
found in 73 percent of people with migraines with aura, 67 percent
of people with migraines without aura and 51 percent of those who
Arterial network abnormalities were most common in the back of
the brain, where visual images are processed. This may explain why
the most common migraine auras consist of visual symptoms such as
seeing distortions, wavy lines or spots, the researchers said.
The study was published recently in the journal
Because both migraine headaches and the types of arterial
structures seen in the study patients are common, Cucchiara's team
noted that the association does not prove a cause-and-effect
relationship. It is likely that the incomplete network of arteries
is just one of many factors that could contribute to migraines,
they said in the news release.
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
has more about
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