Two serious kinds of headaches are linked strongly to the internal clock in the body A meta-analysis released on Wednesday revealed.
Cluster headaches are a rare kind of headache which causes sharp pains that can be felt in the area of the eye. Each burst can last for about 15 minutes, however an attack can last anywhere between one up to three hours. This condition is more prevalent for males than females. It is the opposite for migraines which is a serious headache disorder which has three times the chance of being common for females than males.
While cluster headaches usually occur at evening, migraines usually come on in the daytime as the meta-analysis revealed.
“Cluster headache is thought as a circadian symptom however, it was awe-inspiring how prevalent migraines are in the circadian time,” said Dr. Mark Burish, the study’s principal author and Director of the Will Erwin Headache Research Center at UTHealth Houston.
The meta-analysis comprised 72 studies on the way that circadian rhythm — the internal clock in the body is implicated in the headache or migraine disorder which affects the lives of more than 40 million across the U.S.
The research included information about the daytime or the time of the theyear when a person was diagnosed with headaches and whether the headaches began just before or after a night’s sleep. Certain studies focused on the possibility that certain genes linked to the circadian rhythm are more prevalent for those who suffer from these kinds of headaches. One study involved an analysis of the genetics carried out in nonhuman primates. The other studies were based on human.
The results were announced on Wednesday in Neurology the American Academy of Neurology’s journal of medicine.
Cluster headaches were tightly linked to circadian rhythms, particularly when the seasons change in autumn and spring, the researchers discovered. Over 70% of those who participated in 16 studies of cluster headaches had more frequent attacks during these times and stated that they generally occurred between late in the night and the early hours of morning.
As for genetic predispositions, the research found that five of nine genes that are associated with the cluster headaches could also be involved in the regulation of the circadian rhythms.
The thing that was shocking in the minds of the research team was the fact that the majority of migraine headaches in eight studies were linked to fluid ebbs and flows through the day and throughout all through the year. A majority of patients experienced migraines in the day, morning or evening hours. There was a dramatic drop in headaches between 11 p.m. until 7 a.m. Also, they reported more or more severe migraines between April to October.
Numerous genes are linked to migraine risk, and the study revealed that 110 of these genes are linked to the circadian rhythm.
Burish claimed that understanding the connection between circadian rhythm and headache conditions can lead to more effective treatments.
“Medications that focus on the circadian rhythm could be a different kind of treatment that we could offer to patients suffering from migraines,” he said, saying that the results on migraines are especially interesting.
“We were unsure that examining the circadian target of treatment for migraine could be effective, however, after putting all of this together, we’re more certain that it will have a role,” he said.
In addition to the circadian timing, the study identified two hormones, cortisol and Melatonin.
“Circadian rhythms are triggered by hormones” stated doctor. Narayan Kissoon, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota who is a specialist in headaches and did not participate in the latest study.
The hypothalamus, the brain’s area which is responsible for controlling the biological clock is connected to the glands that create melatonin. It signals the body that it’s time to go to sleep and cortisol, which is the body’s signal to be awake.
The meta-analysis showed that people who suffer from migraines tend to produce less melatonin compared to those who don’t suffer from headaches and produce less during attacks. The people who suffer from cluster headaches had more cortisol levels, and lower levels of melatonin.
Sleep deprivation triggers a rise in cortisol levels Burish claimed, however, he pointed out that the link between the levels of melatonin in the brain and headache disorders is much more clear than the possible connection with cortisol levels.
“Not only do these headache conditions get affected by sleep, but they can also be huge disruptors of sleep. They may be feeding back and increase any circadian mechanism,” said Dr. Andrew Charles, director of the UCLA Goldberg Migraine Program, who was not part of the study. “It’s difficult to determine whether the impact of cortisol is linked to circadian rhythms or is related to stress responses.”
While circadian cycles are definitely linked in the occurrence of cluster headaches, migraines are a very different disorder to categorize, said Kissoon of the Mayo Clinic.
“There are a myriad of factors that contribute to migraine, but one thing we do discover is that things that trigger changes in homeostasis can have an impact on the likelihood of developing migraine,” he added, refers to the balance in the body. This is a result of stress, which can cause cortisol levels to rise.
Genetics, smoking, diet that are not connected to circadian rhythm and how often an individual exercises are all elements that could cause migraines However, the latest research offers a crucial clue that could result in better treatment for some patients experts believe.
“Circadian rhythms and the impact they have on migraine are frequently overlooked,” Kissoon said. “While migraine can be viewed as a complicated disease, this is just one part of the puzzle which could benefit from more research into how we can improve the treatment of both migraine and cluster headaches.”
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