Migraines are a common condition which affect around a billion people worldwide, which equates to around one in seven people. Doctors, scientists and researchers struggle to pinpoint what causes migraines. While the exact cause of migraines remain unknown, the condition is believed to be the result of abnormal activity in the brain, which temporarily affects the brain’s blood vessels, chemicals and nerve signals. Debate continues around whether this debilitating neurological disorder is a vascular dysfunction or the result of neuronal dysfunction with vascular changes.

The results of a recent study uncovers some interesting new information related to the cause of migraines. According to researchers at the International Headache Genetic Consortium (IHGC), which comprises of a multi-national team from the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and Europe, migraines are linked to a vascular condition, which is related to 38 different genes.

The study involved 375,000 people worldwide and is the largest migraine-related study to date. The results of the research are published in the journal Nature Genetics.

In previous migraine-related studies, 13 different genes have been associated with migraines with some scientists claiming that the migraine is a vascular condition, which is triggered by issues with the blood vessels. However, the recent International Headache Genetic Consortium research discovered 38 genes linked to migraines.

As the Jilard Health Digest notes in a report about the new migraine research:

“Not only did the researchers discover a wide variety of genes related to migraines, they found that the genes had a common link. The genes were all related to vascular and smooth muscle tissue, either in or near genes that run the vascular system or that previous research has linked to vascular disease. This evidence seems to support the theory that migraines are a vascular disease, not a neuronal disease as some had theorised.”

Having greater knowledge about the cause of migraines and that they are linked to abnormalities in blood vessels is likely to create more opportunities for the treatment of what now looks to be a vascular condition.

Those who suffer from migraines tend to experience varying levels of severity with certain treatment working for some and different treatments working for others. With more substantial knowledge on-board about the cause of this debilitating condition, scientists will be in a better position to work on finding a treatment that works for a broader range of migraine sufferers.


Leg ulcers can be a debilitating condition. These painful ulcers typically develop when the skin has become broken and bacteria gets inside the wound, affecting skin tissue. The causes of leg ulcers can be injury to the leg or an underlying vascular disease which affects the veins in the legs, though the most common cause of leg ulcers is venous disease.

Venous disease

Venous disease is the cause of approximately 80 percent of leg ulcers. The disease is typically triggered by the valves in the veins not working correctly, which prevents the veins from working as they should. Unlike healthy legs in which the valves enable the blood to flow towards the heart, veins that are not working correctly fail to prevent blood from flowing back to the legs. Consequently, the veins are put under pressure and the skin can become inflamed.

Venous ulcers develop on the lower leg. The first sign of the condition is an area of the skin that becomes dark red or purple, with the skin becoming dry, thickened and itchy. The first sign that a leg ulcer is forming is often a dull, aching pain in the legs. Swelling may also occur that subsides when the leg is elevated.

Venous ulcers tend to be more common in older people and women. Obesity, a history of deep venous thrombosis, inflamed veins and former leg injuries, can all be factors in the cause of venous ulcers.

Arterial disease

Arterial disease is a similar condition to venous disease and is the cause of approximately 15 percent of leg ulcers. Arterial disease is caused by a blockage in either one or more arteries in the leg. It results in the poor circulation of the blood and prevents blood from flowing to certain tissue, which results in a leg ulcer.

The Vascular Consultancy offer leg ulcer treatment and management. Treatment of this often painful and debilitating condition involves expert nursing care in order to clean the wound and stimulating the skin to cover the wound. Treatment to the underlying venous disease is also required.

How is a leg ulcer wound cleaned?

The Vascular Consultancy uses a combination of three techniques to clean a leg ulcer wound. The first is mechanically, which consists of physically removing the slough. The wound can also be cleaned chemically, by using appropriate dressings, as well as biologically, which involves using maggots.

If you have any concerns about leg ulcers or would like to discuss treatment for the condition, get in touch with the Vascular Consultancy and Daryll Baker, one of the UK’s leading specialists in providing advice, diagnosis and treatment options of vascular conditions such as leg ulcers.


Daryll Baker is a Consultant Vascular Surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital London and Clinical Lead for North Central Region Vascular Services.

He read Medicine at Oxford University and trained in Vascular Surgery in Nottingham, London and Edinburgh. He obtained his research PhD from the University of Wales.


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