Difference between Migraine and Stroke

Published on June 27, 2015

Stroke and migraine are two befuddling conditions that can have noticeably similar symptoms. With speech impairment, visual disturbances and muscle weakness being the common symptoms, you need to understand their differences.

Definitions

Stroke

Stroke can be either ischemic or hemorrhagic. Ischemic stroke is an attack to the brain caused by either a clot or blockage in an artery that supplies blood to the brain, while hemorrhagic stroke is bleeding in the brain caused by a damaged or weakened artery.

Stroke is characterized by slurred speech, numbness or weakness on one side of the body, loss of vision, trouble understanding speech, headache, dizziness and disorientation.

Migraine

Migraine is one of the cryptic conditions that has never been clearly defined by neurologists. Nonetheless, it said to be an illness that causes paroxysm of the blood vessels that spreads depressed electrical activity across the brain. Commonly termed as migraine headache, this phenomenon is symbolized by speech disturbances, visual changes such as flashing lights and wavy lines. Along with seizure, migraines are sometimes said to mimic a stroke or TIA (transient ischemic attack).

Comparison chart

StrokeMigraine
Is an attack to the brain caused by either a clot or blockage in an artery that supplies blood to the brain or bleeding in the brain caused by a damaged or weakened artery.Is an illness that causes paroxysm of the blood vessels that spreads depressed electrical activity across the brain.
Strokes have longterm implications.Migraine is a temporary condition.
Mostly affects people at an older age (over 65 years) and men are at higher risk than women.Affects mostly women below 45 years.
Symptoms are sudden, and associated with headache with no known cause linked with loss of balance or unstable walking combined with other symptoms.Headaches can be dull or severe. The pain may be felt behind the eye or in the back of the head and neck and may start on the same side each time.

Migraine vs Stroke

What is the difference between migraine and stroke?

Even though hemorrhagic stroke can feel like a migraine, there are contrasts between the two conditions. Nonetheless, if you are attacked by either of the conditions, you ought to seek advice from a professional doctor or call for emergency services right away.

  • Understandably, stroke symptoms are sudden compared to migraines.  Stroke manifests with sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm, or leg on one side of the body, while migraine with aura manifests with tingling, numbness or pins and needles in the arms and legs, speech problems or weakness on one side of the body associated with headache. The headache can vary from mild to severe.
  • While one may experience loss of vision or dimming (like a curtain falling) in one or both eyes when attacked by stroke,  vision disturbances, or aura are considered as warning signs of migraine where one experiences a temporary blind spot, blurred vision, eye pains, tunnel vision or seeing stars or zigzag lines.
  • With stroke, one may suffer from severe headache with no known cause often linked with loss of balance or unstable walking combined with other symptoms. With migraine, headaches can be dull or severe.  Many patients experience pain behind the eye or in the back of the head and neck, and the headaches start on the same side each time.
  • Recovery from stroke is a long term situation and one needs proper health care and medication. Migraine, on the other hand, may occur anything from once a year to several times per week, involving recurrent attacks at frequent intervals, and one needs professional treatment too.

You need to remember that a non-professional cannot usually distinguish between the two conditions, so if you face any of the described symptoms, contact 911 right away. Every minute matters!

Video

This video gives more info about the two conditions

Watch this important video about the signs of stroke.