How Imaging Can Help Us Better Understand the Migraine-Stroke Connection

Shih Pin Chen, Katharina Eikermann-Haerter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Migraine and stroke are among the most prevalent and disabling neurological diseases. Epidemiologic studies showed that there is an association between migraine and stroke. Migraineurs, especially those with aura, are more likely to develop subclinical infarct-like lesions in the brain and are at risk for cryptogenic or cardioembolic stroke. Migrainous headache can be found at the onset of acute ischemic stroke in some patients, and in rare instances, an infarction can be directly attributed to a prolonged migraine aura, ie, migrainous infarction. Importantly, recent studies suggest that in the event of cerebral artery occlusion, even a history of migraine is sufficient to accelerate infarct progression and worsen outcomes. The mechanisms underlying the migraine-stroke connection are multifactorial, with genetic predisposition, aura-related electrophysiological mechanisms (cortical spreading depolarization), and cerebral microembolism being the most convincing ones at this point. Here, we provide a comprehensive overview on recent imaging studies that have helped us better understand the complex association between migraine and stroke.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-228
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • aura
  • cortical spreading depression
  • migraine
  • stroke


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