Migraine Occurs In Patient With Right-To-Left Shunt

Right-to-left shunt and migraine: the strength of the relationship

This one has been a hot topic with the cardiologists lately. A whole new set of patients to perform procedures on. However, I do not feel that we have all the questions answered yet. Here is the scenario…it was found that a large number of patients in whom the opening between the right and left ventricles in the heart had never closed (in the fetus, the lungs aren’t used so the blood bypasses the lungs via this hole) had migraine headaches. In some cases, these headaches resolved when the hole was surgically closed. So here’s some additional thoughts/concerns.

We have seen studies linking oxidative stress during pregnancy to increased congenital heart defects. We know a large chunk of the cause of migraine is oxidative stress mediated. Is the oxidative stress causing the migraines merely a continuation of the oxidative stress induced by poor nutrition during pregnancy? Or is the effect more current, and blood missing the lungs makes it up to the brain poorly oxygenated and leads to oxidative stress causing migraines? Could antioxidants fix the problem instead of surgery? Still quite a few questions to be answered…

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