In a surprising twist on how stress
may affect migraine risk, new research suggests that patients who are able
to lower their stress
levels may end up inadvertently boosting their immediate risk for a migraine
The study, led by Dr Richard Lipton, director of the
Montefiore Headache Centre and vice chair of neurology at the Albert Einstein
College of Medicine, in New York City, was published in the journal Neurology.
This study demonstrates a striking association between
reduction in perceived stress and the occurrence of migraine headaches,"
Lipton said in a college news release.
Fivefold increase in
Though the authors noted that stress has long been seen as a
trigger of headaches, the new study found that when migraine sufferers are able
to relax following a bout of elevated stress, the stress decline itself may
boost migraine risk.
During the first six-hour period in which high stress starts
to dissipate, the risk for experiencing a migraine increases fivefold, the
Lipton and his colleagues theorise that something about the
rise and fall in levels of the stress hormone cortisol may have something to do
with the elevated risk as stress is reduced.
Migraines affect roughly 38 million Americans, according to
the news release. Lipton's investigation tracked 17 migraine patients who over
a three-month period kept diaries that noted their stress levels and stress-reduction
experiences, as well as sleep
patterns, dietary habits and emotional state of mind
Attend a yoga class
"It is important for people to be aware of rising stress
levels and attempt to relax during periods of stress rather than allowing a
major build up to occur," study co-author Dawn Buse, director of
behavioural medicine at Montefiore Headache Centre, and an associate professor
of clinical neurology at Einstein, said in the news release.
is my optimal stress level?
include exercising or attending a yoga class or may be as simple as taking a
walk or focusing on one's breath for a few minutes," she explained.
Although the study found an association between a drop in stress
levels and migraine attacks, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
common in migraine sufferers