Migraines affect tens of millions of people around the world. In fact, this neurological condition afflicts up to 12% of all adults. But a recent study reveals that migraines, as debilitating as they are, may be a warning sign of something worse on the way. What did the study show? Is there a natural way to combat your migraines and reduce risks of further health problems? Read on to learn more.
Cardiovascular Disease and Migraines
According to the CDC, cardiovascular disease causes about 1 in 4 deaths in the US. It is no wonder then that researchers are always on the lookout for early warning signs. Since migraines affect 39 million people in the US, researchers in California (as well as researchers in Denmark) took a closer look to see if there was any connection between these two common conditions.
The Results from a Study
In the past, research had already connected migraines to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease in women. Since women make up three-quarters of migraine patients, performing specific research with women in mind makes sense. Keep in mind that cardiovascular disease is connected to more than just heart attacks. It is also related to things such as stroke, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, and an irregular heart rate.
The data used for the new study had been collected over the course of 19 years. It showed that while 0.17% of adults without migraines had experienced a heart attack, that figure increased to 0.25% for migraineurs. The study also showed that while 0.25% of adults without migraines experienced a stroke, the number jumped to 0.45% for patients with migraines.
The number of patients who experienced atrial fibrillation also increased significantly for patients with migraines, although heart failure rates seemed to be similar for both groups.
What This Means for Migraine Patients
According to the data, if you suffer from migraines, your risk of experiencing a heart attack increases by about 68% and the risk of a stroke increases by about 56%. While heart attacks and strokes combined affected fewer than 1% of people in the study, such a dramatic increase in odds is a major concern, especially when we are talking about the risk factor being a condition that affects 12% of the adult population.
This makes migraine treatment an important focus for the medical community. Unfortunately, there is no magic pill that can cure migraines. Most medications that are prescribed for migraines are really just used to cover up the symptoms rather than attack the underlying cause of migraines. However, identifying the cause of migraines is a major issue in itself.
What Is the Cause of Migraines?
Researchers have been looking for the cause of migraines for years. Be careful not to confuse triggers with causes. Many people who get migraines experience them following weather changes, stress, lack of sleep, missing a meal, experiencing neck pain, and many other triggers. However, the weather or stress or things like these are not the underlying cause of migraines.
However, there are a number of factors that researchers have linked to the onset of migraines. Some of these include:
- Trauma – The onset of migraines frequently follows an accident or injury to the head or neck.
- Blood flow – Researchers have linked migraines to reduced blood flow to certain parts of the brain, revealing that the condition may also be vascular in nature besides being neurological. This may explain the link to cardiovascular issues.
- Brainstem Function – The brainstem, in particular, seems to be linked to migraines. This small part of the brain controls many of the body’s automatic functions. It also links the brain to the spinal cord, thus playing a key role in communication throughout the body.
Upper Cervical Misalignment
It is interesting to note that there is one common factor that ties together these three possible causes as well as a common symptom of migraines – an upper cervical misalignment.
When the C1 (atlas) is misaligned, it can affect brainstem function because the atlas surrounds the brainstem. It is meant as a protection but can put pressure on the brainstem if it is out of alignment. The C1 also plays a role in facilitating blood flow to the brain since all of the cervical vertebrae have tiny loops of bone (called vertebral foramen) that provide a safe route for the arteries that supply blood to the head. However, a misaligned atlas may affect this flow of blood.
Trauma to the head or neck can easily cause the C1 to misalign. However, the injury doesn’t have to be major to cause a slight subluxation. The C1 is a unique shape that provides about half of the head’s range of movement. However, this also leaves the bone open to misalignment. Even the poor posture used when checking a mobile device over and over throughout the day can eventually cause a misalignment.
Perhaps this is why neck pain is one of the most common migraine symptoms.
Natural Help for Migraines
If you want to get to the source of your migraines, upper cervical chiropractic needs to be one of the options you look into. A practitioner can help you to determine if this is a good therapy for you during a no-obligation consultation. Then, an examination can reveal if you actually have an atlas misalignment. If so, precise measurements will allow the upper cervical chiropractor to provide gentle adjustments that are tailored specifically to you. For some patients, correcting this underlying issue has led to becoming migraine-free. Finding a practice in your area is the first step.