Friday, February 27, 2009
Medical Reports: Migraine
People who suffer with migraine headaches know how powerful and painful they can be, but what many migraine sufferers don't know is that some migraines could indicate more serious problems. Seven's Christine Cruz explains in today's Healthcast.
WSVN -- They strike out of nowhere.
Maria McIntyre: "Imagine having a level five or six of pain that doesn't go away."
Richard Higgins: "I'm not functional at all. I can't read."
Migraines show no mercy. For bio-engineer Richard Higgins, they became a stumbling block to his career.
Richard Higgins: "My first symptoms are auras, which are a small blind spot in my vision."
Auras afflict about a third of all migraine sufferers. Most don't know the visual symptoms could point to a potentially life-threatening heart defect called patent foramen ovale or PFO.
Dr. Ziyad Hijazi, Cardiologist: "We believe that 50 percent of patients who have migraines with aura have PFO."
PFO is a hole in the heart, and it leaves a person at high risk for stroke.
Dr. Ziyad Hijazi: "If your migraine is the migraine with aura, and you get it at least a few times a month, the first test that you should have is an echocardiogram to see if you have a PFO or not."
In addition to stroke, migraine with aura has been linked to an increased risk of heart attack and depression.
Maria McIntyre says the hard part is getting a doctor to make a diagnosis.
Maria McIntyre: "You know, going back to your doctors and saying there is something else."
She says she'll keep going back, efforts to hopefully safeguard her future.
Clinical trials are underway to see if closing the holes in the heart will prevent migraines and reduce the risk of stroke.
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