Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Migraines & Hyperexcitable Brains


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Migraine brains are more active and less able to regulate themselves according to Dr. Peter Goadsby, director of the University of California - San Francisco Headache Center, who spoke recently at the American Neurological Association meeting. Researchers have always wondered why migraine brains were so sensitive and this information helps them understand more about what happens in the brain that causes the reactions experienced by migraine patients.

Migraines May be Explained by Hyperexcitability of Brain Networks

Those of us who have experienced migraine attacks intuitively understand this finding. It reflects what we tend to experience during an attack: sensitivity to some or all of our senses, nausea, dizziness, pain, etc. Goadsby said researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to look at the brains of 21 migraine patients and 21 non-migraine patients of the same age and sex. The goal was to see whether the brain itself was the center of what happens in a migraine attack. fMRI allows doctors to study the way a patient's brain is working instead of capturing the brain at a single moment in time.

This is an extremely important finding because it confirms that migraine is not primarily a vascular disease. Rather, it is a neurological disease like the migraine community has been saying for the past few years.

The findings from this study will help researchers study the effectiveness of existing prevention medications and also help find new directions in medication research. The finding provides further support for the idea that the drug Namenda (mementine HCL) might be effective as a migraine preventive. It is currently FDA approved for Alzheimer's Disease patients, but doctors have had some luck using it as a migraine preventive. It is thought the drug might work on the hypersensitivity of the migraine brain.

You may recall that I took Namenda for a time to see if it would be an effective migraine preventive for me. It was not, but that certainly doesn't say anything about whether it might help other patients.

Sources:
Migraines May be Explained by Hyperexcitability of Brain Networks
Functional MRI - Brain


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DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site constitutes medical or legal advice. I am a patient who is engaged and educated and enjoys sharing my experiences and news about migraines, pain and depression. Please consult your own health care providers for advice on your unique situation.