Link between hole in heart and migraines


Researchers from Neurology and Cardiovascular Medicine at Beaumont Hospital are recruiting 14 volunteers to study if patching a hole in one's heart reduces the number of migraine headaches better than medication.

The hole in the heart, called a patent foramen ovale, normally closes at or shortly after birth. When it doesn't, blood leaks from the right side of the heart to the left side and then travels to the brain, carrying chemicals with it that may cause migraines. Normally, the blood travels from the right side of the heart to the lungs, where those chemicals are removed, before it flows to the brain.

The study will use an experimental device, the Amplatzer PFO Occluder, to patch the hole.

Participation in the research study lasts up to five years. Volunteers must already have been diagnosed with migraine headaches and may have been told they have the heart defect. They will undergo several tests, including one to evaluate the rhythm and electrical activity of the heart; another that uses ultrasound to assess blood flow in the brain; and a third test that uses sound waves to create a picture of the heart.

Half of the volunteers will get the patch and half will not. The device is inserted through a tube that is introduced through an incision in the groin, then travels to the heart. All participants will take blood thinning medication and possibly an antibiotic. They will be asked to make at least nine follow-up visits to the study doctors. They will not be allowed to change their migraine medication for one year after the procedure.

The study sponsor will cover the costs of the patch, the procedure to install it and all testing required.

For more information about this study, please call study coordinator Cynthia Leathers, R.N., nurse manager of Cardiovascular Research, at 248-898-5580.

"Previous research leads us to believe that repairing the PFO (patent foramen ovale) will reduce not only the frequency but also the severity of migraines," says George Hanzel, M.D., a cardiologist who is co-leading the study at Beaumont with neurologist Jonathan Fellows, D.O.

Dr. Fellows says," If this approach works, we will have one more option for patients plagued by these debilitating headaches, freeing them from pain and improving their quality of life."

Beaumont is Michigan's, and one of the nation's, most experienced providers of heart care, ranking 12th on the U.S. News and World Report 2007 list of the "Top 50" hospitals for heart and heart surgery. The Beaumont Heart Center is a comprehensive, state-of-the-art facility that's dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart problems. Beaumont's Ministrelli Women's Heart Center is the first in Michigan devoted exclusively to the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and research of heart disease in women.

The Neurology department at Beaumont treats all neurological diseases, including stroke, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimers disease, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis and migraine, among others. In addition, the hospital has a Myasthenia Gravis Treatment Center; a Neurology Clinic; a Neuromuscular Clinic for children; neuroradiology; and clinical neurophysiology. Beaumont is included on the U.S. News and World Report 2007 list of the "Top 50" hospitals in the country for neurology and neurosurgery, with Beaumont, Royal Oak ranking 35th and Beaumont, Troy ranking 47th.