HeadWise HeadWise: Volume 4, Issue 4 - Page 20

Seizure is the clinical manifestation of an abnormal discharge of a population of cells in the brain (neurons) that all fire together. When a population of neurons starts firing abnormally all together, this electrical event can produce a manifestation in a person: the clinical features of a seizure. Clinical features can be subjective – something that the patient notices such as a rising feeling in the stomach, a taste or a smell – and/or objective, such as jerking of the limbs or loss of consciousness. Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by the occurrence of seizures without acute provocation. Epilepsy is common: 1 in 26 people develop epilepsy at some point in their lives. About one-third of people still have seizures despite treatment with currently available medications. Some people’s epilepsy can be managed by surgery if an identifiable region of the brain can be located where the seizures originate, and that region can be resected surgically. But many people with epilepsy still have seizures despite treatment efforts. About two-thirds of epilepsy has no identified cause. Genetic factors may play a critical role particularly in that subset of epilepsy. Genetic research has begun to offer a novel understanding of the causes and the underlying biology of epilepsy. That understanding can be used to develop targeted new treatments, and transform patient care. 20 HeadW ise ® | Volume 4, Issue 4 • 2015 “Our results are the first demonstration of a shared genetic effect on migraine and epilepsy in a large group of individuals with common epilepsy and common migraine.” this shared genetic cause was restricted to specific types of migraine or epilepsy. First, we looked at migraine with aura and migraine without aura. Migraine with aura (MA) is a specific sub-type of migraine, where a person experiences a warning sensation before the headache. A migraine aura consists of reversible focal neurological symptoms. Those symptoms, which can be quite varied, usually develop gradually over 5 to 20 minutes and last for less than 60 minutes. The headache usually follows the aura symptoms. The most common aura symptoms are visual symptoms, such as bright flickering lights and geometric patterns with impaired vision. Sometimes during an aura, patients will be unable to see in a certain part of their visual field. They may also experience loss of sensation on one side of the body, tingling sensations, weakness on one side of the body, inability to speak, or vertigo. It is important to distinguish more dangerous neurological conditions that can cause these symptoms before attributing the cause to migraine. Some people experience both headaches with aura and without aura. In this study, we separated participants with migraine into those who ever had auras (MA) from those who never had an aura with their migraine headaches (MO only). In our study, when we divided migraine types, we found that the shared genetic effect between migraine and epilepsy was specific to MA; in other words, MO-only did