Dr. Messoud Ashina with the University of Copenhagen in Denmark published the first physical evidence that indicates that migraine headaches and migraines with aura produce substantial and potentially dangerous permanent changes in the brains of people who have migraines in the Aug 28, 2013,. issue of the journal Neurology.
Ashina based his conclusions on a meta-analysis of 13 clinical studies and six large studies that examined the effects of migraines and migraines with aura on the MRI scans of patients who suffered from migraines.
The researchers looked specifically for an increased risk of brain lesions, blood vessel abnormalities, and brain volume changes as indicated by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
The results indicate that 68 percent of the patients involved in the analysis that had migraine with aura had an increased risk of white matter brain lesions. The risk of increased white matter brain lesions was 34 percent higher in people who had migraines with no aura compared to people who did not have migraines.
Tissue death that could possibly lead to stroke was 44 percent higher in people who had migraine with aura compared to those who had migraine with no aura.
Brain volume changes were similar and larger for people who had migraines with or without aura compared to people who had no migraines.
Previously, physicians and scientists considered migraines to produce no lasting brain damage.
Migraines with aura are characterized by a transient motor, visual, language, or sensory disturbance that occurs before the onset of a migraine.