Do Migraines Put You at Increased Risk for Dementia?

Do you often forget why you walked into a room?  What you were looking for? Did you think you might be “losing your mind” because you’re often dazed and confused? Losing my memory and cognitive function happened often to me when I was stuck in my migraine cycles. And the idea of not being able to remember my future children’s names was enough to get me digging deep into the study that found a link between migraines and dementia.

New studies have found migraines put you at an increased risk of dementia, especially Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, and migraines are a prominent neurological condition. It’s time we address the concerns and find natural ways to protect ourselves from the links binding these terrifying conditions.

The Damning Evidence of the Study

Published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, researchers found, patients who had a history of migraines were three to four times more likely to develop either all-cause dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. Even though there are vascular concerns in migraine cases, patients in the study weren’t at significant risk of developing vascular dementia, which is the result of having blocked or damaged blood vessels in the brain. Alzheimer’s is characterized by brain plaques (proteins) and tangles (fibers).

More than half the participants in the study were women, and the average age was around 76 years. They were each tracked for five years. Interestingly, women with the least amount of education were four times more likely to get Alzheimer’s Disease. 

What to Do When You Start Forgetting Things

The first thing to do when you forget something is to stop for a moment and identify what’s happening. The goal is to figure out if you’re under duress or stressed. Our minds are potent organisms, so if you’re overexerted or stressed out, that may be the real cause of forgetfulness. Perhaps it’s from a lack of sleep or just having your mind on other things. Stop, breathe, and focus. Can you remember what you needed to remember now? Is there a cause for concern? How often do you forget things?  And, most importantly, what should you do when you start to forget things more often?

Go back to the basics, which are the risk factors. Other than migraines, some other risk factors for dementia include:

·         Age and genetics or family history

·         Poor diet and little exercise

·         Heavy alcohol use and smoking

·         Depression, anxiety, and psychological disorders

·         Diabetes

·         Sleep apnea

·         Vitamin and mineral deficiencies

·         Heart conditions like atherosclerosis and high cholesterol

Common sense healthcare suggests we approach risk factors from a personal perspective. You can’t do anything about age and genetics, but you can do a lot for everything else on that list. I’m not going to tell you where to start – you must make that decision for yourself. What is the biggest problem for you? If you’re a smoker or heavy drinker, that may be the first stop. If you don’t exercise, that would be the best place to start.

The point is just to start, and you don’t have to do it alone. Improving your cognitive function and reducing your risk of dementia takes only a little time and effort, and all the solutions will feel good. I don’t give specific advice on this blog because each person is different. If you are uncertain about where to begin, reach out. I help people all over the globe combat migraines and all the problems that come with them.


·         AJMC: Migraines Linked to Future Dementia, Alzheimer, but Only in Women

·         Healthline: Migraine and Dementia: Are They Linked?

·         Wiley Online Library: International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry – Migraine and the risk of all‐cause dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and vascular dementia: A prospective cohort study in community‐dwelling older adults

·         New England Geriatrics: What Are the Differences Between Vascular Dementia and Alzheimer’s?