Recurring headaches motivate some clients to seek out massage therapy. Recent research has shown that migraine sufferers exhibit lesions of the brain microvessels at rates higher than the rest of the population, which has raised some concern that migraine sufferers might also be more at risk off cognitive decline in later years than the general population.

The lesions “result from a deterioration of the small cerebral arteries that supply blood to the brain’s white matter, the material which ensures, among other things, the passage of information between different parts of the brain,” according to a press release from the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, where the research was conducted.

To test this hypothesis, the researchers evaluated the impact of migraine on cognitive function. The team studied a group of individuals aged over 65 years, recruited from the general population, and monitored them over a 10-year period.

“The results show that 21 percent of people suffer or have suffered from severe headaches over the course of their lives.,” the press release noted For more than 70 percent of these, this involves migraines, some of which are with aura (see box below).

“The MRI scans for those participants having severe headaches confirm that they are twice as likely to have a large quantity of microvascular brain lesions as subjects without headaches,” the press released noted. “In contrast, the cognitive scores were identical for individuals with or without severe headaches and for those having or not having cerebral microvascular lesions.”

“This is a very reassuring result for the many people who suffer from migraine. In spite of the increased presence of lesions of the brain microvessels, this disorder does not increase the risk of cognitive decline. Therefore, we have not observed negative consequences of migraine on the brain,” concludes Tobias Kurth, lead author of the study, who designed and carried out these analyses.

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