Migraines are a beast, and one in seven people in the world suffer from them regularly. Until now, doctors haven’t really known what causes them.
But a new study published by the International Headache Genetics Consortium found that these awful headaches are probably caused by vascular and muscular problems.
In other words, the cause has to do with how well blood is supplied throughout the body.
This study involved 59,674 migraine patients and 316,078 people that don’t get migraines. Its findings build on previous work that scanned the DNA (or genomes) of migraine patients, finding 13 independent loci (small differences in DNA) that are associated with migraines.
The new study found 38 distinct loci in migraine patients’ genomes that were associated with migraine risk. The team found that these loci affected vascular and smooth muscle tissue. It was this discovery that suggested that migraines are probably due to problems with blood supply.
While more work is still to be done, the researchers think their findings could be the start of personalized treatments for the disease — a necessary step to help patients suffering from these debilitating headaches, which are the third-most prevalent illness in the world.