A new study has found that migraines may be linked to the artery structure in the brain. The idea is that there might be an incomplete blood flow that causes these headaches. Ask anyone that’s had a migraine, and they will likely tell you how horrible this type of headache can be. It can affect all aspects of life, and researchers have been trying to determine the cause of migraines for years. If they can discover the cause of them, researchers can develop a more effective way to treat migraine headaches.
Recently, scientists have found that there is a network of arteries that provide blood to the brain. In those with migraines, that network is likely to be incomplete than in those that do not have migraines. The differences in the arterial structure can make the blood flow on one side of the brain different than on the other side, and this may be a key cause of migraines.
About 28 million Americans suffer from migraine headaches. Researchers previously believed that migraines were caused from blood vessels in the brain that were dilated, but they now feel that migraines are caused from neuronal signals that are abnormal. However, this newest study has offered another idea as it seems to give evidence that the blood vessels have a different role than suspected in the past. This study has found that differences in the structure of the blood flow to the brain may make a person more susceptible to migraines than those with normal blood vessel structure.
For the study, researchers gave 170 patients an examination. Participants were placed in three groups: one with migraines with aura, one with no headaches, and one with migraine without aura. Then, the researchers used a technique called magnetic resonance angiography to help them look at the structure of the blood vessels in the head. Additionally, researchers used a magnetic resonance imaging method that is noninvasive, called ASL, or Arterial spin labeling, to determine the changes in blood flow to the brain.
According to Brett Cucciara, the lead author of the study, those that have migraines have differences the the blood vessel structure. It’s something that people are born with. The link seems to have something to do with the changes in the way that blood flows to the brain, which may trigger migraine headaches and might explain why some people notice that being dehydrated is a trigger for migraines.
Scientists also noticed that blood flow abnormalities that were the most obvious were at the back part of the brain. The visual cortex resides in the back of the brain, so it might help to explain that most of the common migraine auras include visual symptoms including flashing lights, spots and wavy lines.
Researchers feel hopeful that these new findings can help the medical community to develop new ways to better treat migraines.