Recently published findings in the American Journal of Medicine show that migraine sufferers are twice as likely to suffer an ischemic stroke; the kind that occurs when a clot disrupts blood flow to the brain.
While experts don’t know why there is a correlation between migraine headaches and these types of strokes, they warn that migraine sufferers should pay extra attention to their controllable factors.
If you have migraines, like I do, you need to know about the risk factors that you can change because age, race and family history are uncontrollable factors. According to the website of the National Stroke Association, there are eight factors that are within our control to address.
High Blood Pressure – High blood pressure can be affected by a family history, age and gender; but there are things you can do to keep it in check. Eat a diet that is low in salt and includes lots of vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy products.
Atrial Fibrillation – Atrial Fibrillation is a type of irregular heartbeat. This is a major risk factor but many people don’t even know they have it. You should get tested for AF if you feel you may be at risk. Symptoms of AF include heart palpatations, a sudden pounding or fluttering sensation in your chest, and dizziness or feeling light-headed.
High Cholesterol – You can manage your cholesterol by eating healthy. Eat more low-fat foods like vegetables, fruits, lean meats and low-fat dairy products. Opt for baked, broiled, steamed or grilled foods over fried. Get more fiber into your diet by adding whole grains or dried beans.
Diabetes – Diabetes can be managed by eating healthy also. Eat more fruits and vegetables and high-fiber foods. Watch your salt, fat and sugar intake. Physical activity can also help to lower blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol.
Tobacco Use and Smoking – Smoking and using tobacco is unhealthy for anyone. No need to go in depth here. If you smoke, stop. If you don’t smoke, don’t start.
Alcohol Use – Most medical professionals agree that you increase your risk of stroke if you consume one or two alcoholic drinks each day. Regular consumption is not recommended.
Physical Inactivity – Studies show that people who exercise five or more times a week have a reduced stroke risk. Regular exercise will help keep your blood pressure in the acceptable range also. Try to exercise daily, even if it is just a 30 minute walk.
Obesity – Being obese is another factor that puts you at risk for a stroke. Watching your diet and remaining active will also help you manage your weight.
The National Stroke Association also provides valuable information about recognizing the symptoms of a stroke, actions you should take and recovery.
Reuters – Migraine Sufferers At a Greater Risk of a Stroke
National Stroke Association Website