Researchers: Migraine Headaches Linked to Heart Abnormality?
Beaumont Seeking Participants for National Study
Doug Guidry, 45, of Warren has been battling migraine headaches most of his life. So when he heard about a research study looking at a new treatment, he jumped at the opportunity. He knew going into the program not all participants would receive the device, but like a flip of a coin, it was a chance worth taking.
|Doug Guidry with his daughter Hanna.|
Over the past 30 years, Doug has seen countless doctors in an attempt to find relief. On average he experienced three migraines a week. The debilitating pain not only affected his role as a husband and father, but also as a product engineer with Chrysler.
Doug is not alone. According to the National Headache Foundation, nearly 29 million Americans have migraines – a leading cause of missed work and lost productivity. For many, these headaches also diminish their quality of life.
“It was horrible knowing I’ve tried everything,” explains Guidry.
Over the years he tried many prescription medications, but couldn’t find relief. Then he visited Beaumont Hospital cardiologists Steven Timmis, M.D. and Amr Abbas, M.D. They informed him that Beaumont was seeking volunteers for a nationwide study on migraines and a common congenital heart defect known as patent foramen ovale, or PFO. The trial, conducted by cardiologists and neurologists, is studying the effectiveness of PFO closure as a treatment for migraines. In recent years, doctors have noted a possible link between migraines and PFO.
A PFO is a small opening between the upper chambers of the heart. It usually closes after birth. However, in 15-25 percent of adults it does not. This opening allows some blood to bypass the filtering system of the lungs. As a result, unfiltered, deoxygenated blood may be pumped throughout the body and brain.
Doug was interested in the study, known as the PREMIUM trial. He met the criteria and in September 2008 was enrolled at Beaumont, Royal Oak. Study participants are randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group will receive a device called the Amplatzer PFO Occluder and the second group will not receive the device, but instead will follow the standard of care prescribed by a physician.
The PFO Occluder is a self-expanding device that closes the small opening in the heart. It’s delivered under X-ray and echo guidance through a catheter from the groin.
About two months after enrolling, Doug received the PFO Occluder device. The minimally invasive procedure, performed by Dr. Abbas, took about one hour and included a one-night stay.
“At the time of his procedure Doug did not know whether or not he received the device. This nondisclosure is part of the study’s design and is intended to eliminate bias,” explains Dr. Abbas.
Since the procedure, more than nineteen months ago, Doug’s frequency of migraines has dramatically decreased – from three per week to one every three months.
“Work is better. I’m not battling headaches. I’ve got more time for my family,” says Doug. “Before, I felt guilty not being able to spend much quality time with my daughters. Now I’ve even got more time for running.”
Beaumont researchers are still seeking volunteers. For more information and eligibility criteria, call Margie Romanoski, R.N., study coordinator at 248-898-6602.