A Norwegian study has determined that the intense arctic sun causes more headaches in women who are prone to migraines than the prolonged darkness of the arctic winter. Dr. Karl Alstadhaug, a neurologist at Nordlandssykehuset hospital in Bodo, Norway (located north of the Arctic Circle) recently completed a study designed to evaluate whether there was any seasonal variation to migraine attacks in a group of 169 women.
The 98 women who had migraines with aura (a warning sensation that occurs before a migraine begins) suffered more from the arctic sun than the 71 women who had migraines without aura. Forty-seven per cent of the former group reported more frequent migraines during the summer, 82% of them identified exposure to light as a cause, and 42% said they were sensitive to light between attacks.
The findings support the theory that, in people with migraines, cells in the occipital lobe of the brain -- responsible for vision -- may become hyperexcitable in the presence of intense light, which could trigger migraine attacks.
Another study by researchers at the Institute for Neurology and Movement at Norway's Technical University reports on the use of Atacand, a medicine to treat high blood pressure, in stopping migraines. Sixty patients took part and the incidence of migraines fell by 64%. The results will be published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The researchers are working on a new study, hoping to discover if changes in blood pressure can be linked to migraines.