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J Neurol Sci. 2009 Aug 15;283(1-2):134-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2009.02.333. Epub 2009 Mar 5.

Brain lesions and cerebral functional impairment in migraine patients.

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Headache Clinic, Department of Neurology, Ghent University Hospital, De Pintelaan 185, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium.


Migraine is an independent risk factor for ischemic stroke, mainly in the subpopulation of women with migraine with aura who are younger than 45 years, particularly those that use estrogen containing oral contraceptives. Migraine however should be considered a benign condition as the absolute increase of stroke risk is small. Migraine is also associated with a high prevalence of cerebral white matter hyperintensities, occurring in the deep and periventricular white matter as well as infratentorial, mainly pontine. The pathogenesis and clinical significance of these hyperintensities is unclear. We do not know whether migraine may be considered a progressive disorder in a subset of patients because of accumulation of these hyperintensities over time. Studies on the relationship between migraine and cognitive functioning yielded conflicting results. Two recent studies have provided reassuring news for the migraine patient. A population-based twin study showed that a lifetime migraine diagnosis was not associated with cognitive deficits in middle-aged subjects. A long-term prospective study, assessing cognitive and memory changes in ageing individuals with and without a history of migraine, showed that migraineurs do not exhibit more decline on cognitive tests over time versus controls. Migraine is certainly not a recognized risk factor for (vascular) dementia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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