NHF - February Newsletter
National Headache Foundation
Newsletter / February 2020
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We appreciate your contributions which help the Foundation to continue to raise awareness and advocate for those experiencing headache and migraine, as well as provide easy access to the resources and research needed to better understand these disorders.

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Register Now for the 2020 Migraine World Summit

The largest patient event in the world for migraine and headache disorders will kick off on March 11 at the Grand Hyatt New York, followed by the annual 8-day virtual summit taking place from March 18-26. The Migraine World Summit will bring together experts in headache medicine, including physicians and researchers, to share new treatments, research, and strategies to help improve migraine and chronic headache. The virtual summit will allow viewers to watch from the privacy and comfort of home and will be complimentary while airing live.

Featured Article Star  FEATURED ARTICLE:
Head and Heart: Know Your Risk for Cardiovascular Complications from Your Migraine
February is American Heart Month and if you have migraine disease you could be at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, especially if you’re a woman. Studies show that migraine disease could put you at an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, blood clots and irregular heart rate. In a 2016 study, researchers found women who experience migraine with aura had a higher chance of experiencing cardiovascular disease. In fact, migraine with aura was the second highest risk factor, following high blood pressure as the highest risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
If you’re concerned about cardiovascular disease and migraine disease, ask your health care practitioner these questions:
  • How can I lower my risk of cardiovascular disease if I have migraine?
  • Is it safe for me to take prescription migraine medication if I’m at risk for, or have, cardiovascular disease?
  • What are some low-tyramine, heart-healthy foods I can incorporate into my diet?
  • Can migraine be symptomatic of stroke or heart attack?
Featured Article Star  FEATURED ARTICLE:
Takeaways from the 13th Annual Headache on the Hill
The 13th annual Headache on the Hill (HOH) took place on February 10-11, 2020 in Washington D.C., an annual headache and migraine advocacy event organized by the Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy (AHDA). The event unites health care professionals, migraine and cluster headache disease advocates and patients requesting that Congress pass legislation favorable to those with headache and migraine. On February 11, 153 House meetings and 90 Senate meetings took place, with 179 advocates in attendance, representing 45 states.
United States Capitol Building
The NHF was excited to have Mary Franklin (Illinois), Executive Director, along with board members, Jill Dehlin (Michigan) and Margot Andersen (Illinois), and staff member, Daniel King (Indiana) participating. On Tuesday, February 11, the NHF team was busy with visits to the House and Senate office buildings to meet their respective representatives. They also attended a briefing at the Senate Kennedy Caucus room regarding increased funding for fellowships, including those in headache medicine.
NHF Advocacy and Policy Associate, Daniel King (left) met with Indiana Congressman, Peter Visclosky (right)
NFH Advocacy and Policy Associate, Daniel King (left) met with Indiana Congressman, Peter Visclosky (right)
NHF Board Member, Jill Dehlin (center), is joined by fellow advocates from Michigan to discuss with Congressman Fred Upton.
NHF Board Member, Jill Dehlin (center), is joined by fellow advocates from Michigan to discuss with Congressman Fred Upton.
Researchers recently completed a study to understand the connection between migraine disease and vasodilation, a process where blood vessels expand. Vasodilation can occur naturally during exercise, in warm temperatures, eating spicy-hot foods and after drinking alcohol. Vasodilation is proven to be a leading cause of migraine and researchers are curious to learn more about how vasodilation affects those with migraine.
Hospital Monitor
The study used nitroglycerin, a chemical that can induce vasodilation, among a group of people with or without migraine disease. Results of this study found that people with migraine disease who were administered nitroglycerin had a higher heart rate and higher blood pressure than those who had not have been diagnosed with migraine disease and were administered nitroglycerin. Additionally, the findings suggested the migraine group is more prone to the effects of vasodilation and their bodies may not be equipped to process the effects of vasodilation.
question mark icon DID YOU KNOW?
People can mistake a transient ischemic attack (TIA), a mini-stroke, as a migraine with aura. According to the American Stroke Association, 15% of all strokes are preceded by a TIA, and within one year of experiencing a TIA, 25% of those will die. Migraine disease and TIA share symptoms, such as homonymous hemianopsia which is a condition in which a person sees only one side―right or left―of the visual field of each eye. Other shared symptoms include visual field constriction, weakness or numbness in limbs, facial numbness, or tingling and dizziness.
A 2018 study found that migraine with aura is linked to a two-time increased risk for readmission to the emergency department for TIA.
If you experience migraine with aura, here are the questions to ask yourself when seeking medical attention:
  • How quickly did the attack come on? Migraine symptoms usually worsen over time, whereas symptoms of a TIA reach their severity rapidly.
  • Do I have additional sensory cues? A TIA can cause temporary impairment of speech or motor skills, drooping facial muscles, and confusion as well as a loss of balance.
If you think you think your migraine attack may be a TIA, seek medical attention immediately and explain the symptoms you’re experiencing to the health care professional handling your care.
Save the Date for the NHF’s 2020 Annual Gala
Celebrating 50 Years of Community
On May 16, 2020, the National Headache Foundation will host their 50th anniversary gala and fundraiser.
This year, guests will enjoy special surprises in recognition of the milestone year, a dinner, silent auction, live music, and more, all in support of those living with headache and migraine disease.
Proceeds from the fundraiser will further the organization’s mission of increasing headache awareness through research support, educational activities, and serving as a resource for the 40 million Americans living with this disease.
The 2020 Gala will take place at The Langham, Chicago and further details will be available on NHF’s website. Those interested in attending can also contact the NHF at 312-274-2650 or [email protected]
A woman looking scared and covering her mouth
Listen to Heads UP, the National Headache Foundation’s official weekly podcast where experts discuss a range of topics related to headache. Recent episodes include:
After receiving an epidural corticosteroid injection several weeks ago, I’ve been experiencing post-dural-puncture headache (PDPH) and sciatica pain. Are there any prescription medications that can treat my headache and pain symptoms, while also helping with the healing process?
This is hard to say, as an epidural injection does not pierce the dural and therefore cannot produce that type of headache. Admittedly, as a complication, this does occasionally happen. In this setting, the headaches are largely positional in that when you lie down, they resolve and worsen whenever you get up. Occasionally an MRI of the brain shows a characteristic pattern of enhancement around the brain and the
Mark W. Green MD, FAAN

Mark W. Green MD, FAAN

bottom of the brain sinks downward. If you have these characteristics, the injection likely pierced the dura resulting in a spinal fluid leak. If not, other sources of the pain should be considered.
An epidural blood patch is the usual treatment if it does not resolve on its own. The patch isn’t perfect, but infection is uncommon. The level at which it is administered changes whether, and where, you might have back or leg pain. Caffeinated beverages can also help.
Mark W. Green MD, FAAN
Director of Headache and Pain Medicine
Professor of Neurology, Anesthesiology, and Rehabilitation Medicine
Vice-Chair of Neurology for Professional Development and Alumni Relations
Icahn School of Medicine at Mt Sinai
Each month we’ll feature your questions and our answers about headache and migraine in the newsletter. If you have a question about headache or migraine, please email us and keep an eye out for the answer from one of our doctors!
Email: [email protected]
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Phone: 312-274-2650 Email: [email protected]
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