Researchers Find Link Between Kids With Migraines, Heart Defect

Filed under: Medical Conditions, In The News, Weird But True

migrane heart defect picture

Studies show a link between migranes and heart defects. Credit: Getty Images

Children who suffer certain types of migraine headaches may have a common congenital heart defect.

According to U.S. News & World Report, researchers at the Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City may have found a link between migraines and a heart defect in the wall between the heart's two upper chambers.

Known as patent foramen ovale (PFO), the defect is common -- affecting about one in four people in the United States. It can, is some cases, allow unfiltered blood to bypass the lungs and circulate through the body.

The magazine reports researchers studied 109 children aged 6 to 18 who were diagnosed with migraines between 2008 and 2009.

They found that 50 percent of the children who had migraines with aura had a PFO. A migraine with aura means the headache came with additional symptoms, mostly commonly visual distortions. The percentage of young migraine sufferers with a PFO is nearly double that of the general population, according to the magazine.

Dr. Rachel McCandless of the Primary Children's Medical Center tells U.S. News & World Report that only a fourth of the children with migraines without aura had a PFO.

This is good news, she adds. If further research confirms a link, the use of a catheter device to close a PFO may help treat migraines with aura, she and her colleagues note.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.