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Surgery Prevents Migraines

Published: March 27, 2009

Turns out that fixing a hole in the heart might sometimes help prevent a debilitating pain in the head.

In an observational study, 87 percent of migraine sufferers who had minor heart surgery to close an atrial septal defect (see diagram) had significantly fewer attacks than the 21 percent of patients given medical treatment only, according to lead researcher Dr. Carlo Vigna of Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza IRCCS Hospital in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy.

A randomized trial is needed to confirm the results. The surprise benefit was noted when the catheter-based procedure was performed on migraine sufferers for reasons unrelated to headache, such as an unexplained stroke.

Click on the following link to access the study: 

Vigna C, et al “Improvement of migraine after patent foramen ovale percutaneous closure in patients with subclinical brain lesions: A case-control study” J Am Coll Cardiovasc Intv 2009; 2(2): 107-113.

For more information on migraine research, treatment, and prevention, visit ninds.nih.gov/disorders/migraine/migraine.htm

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