During the wintertime we all may have cold noses and hands when we spend time outside. For people who get migraines though, it can be a year-round experience.  A new study published online in Autonomic Neuroscience suggests the reason may be due to underlying blood vessel abnormalities. While migraine headaches are considered a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases and stroke, few studies have looked at skin-temperature changes as a feature of vascular health, the researchers said.

The study compared skin temperature in the face and hands of 41 Finnish women. Twelve of the women had migraines and 29 of them did not. A family history of migraines was reported by 85% of the participants, and 31% of the controls.

A digital infrared camera was used to measure skin temperature on the nose, cheeks, forehead, hands and fingertips in migraine subjects – during a time when they were migraine-free. The controls were measured in the same way.

The average temperature of the nose and hands was about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit lower in the migraine subjects, and 58% of them had skin temperatures below 86 degrees Fahrenheit. That is considered a normal skin temperature in both the nose and fingers.

In contrast, the nose and finger temperatures were below 86 degrees Fahrenheit in 31% and 40% of the controls.

The researchers also found that participants with right-sided migraines had notably higher blood pressure and lower hand and finger temperatures than the healthy controls. The difference in the fingertip temperatures was close to 9 degrees Fahrenheit.

Of the controls with cold hands, half had a family history of migraine.

The study suggests that colder extremities in migraine patients was most likely due to constricted arteries or impaired function of the nervous system, which controls the heart and internal organs…..  wsj 12/9/13


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