What do you need to know about an ocular migraine stroke?


Quick Answer

While, as of 2015, there is no proven relationship between ocular migraines and strokes, The Migraine Trust cites research indicating that women under 45 who experience migraines with auras stand an increased risk of suffering an ischemic stroke. However, sometimes ocular migraine and stroke symptoms are confused for one another.

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Full Answer

An ocular, or visual, migraine typically begins with the appearance of a small, shimmering area within the field of vision that expands over about 30 minutes before disappearing, as Brigham and Women's Hospital explains. This visual symptom, also known as an aura, is often followed by a migraine headache with the typical symptoms of throbbing head pain, sensitivity to sound and light, and nausea; however, in acephalgic migraines, the visual symptoms can appear without the headache. These symptoms are similar but not identical to visual symptoms often experienced during transient ischemic attack, or mini-stroke. In a mini-stroke, the visual disturbance is more likely to take the form of an area of darkness impeding the field of vision.

It's possible for someone experiencing aura symptoms to believe he is experiencing a migraine when in fact he is suffering a stroke, as The Migraine Trust explains. When a stroke occurs during a migraine attack, it's known as a migrainous infarction. A brain scan is needed to confirm the presence of an ischemic stroke.

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