This debilitating ailment may be a symptom of a much more serious problem.
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Casey Taylor: They strike out of nowhere. Maria McIntyre: Imagine having a level five or six of pain that doesn't go away. Richard Higgins: I'm not functional at all. Casey Taylor: Migraines show no mercy. For bio-engineer Richard Higgins, they became a stumbling block to his career. Richard Higgins: My first symptoms are auras, which are a small blind spot in my vision. Casey Taylor: Auras afflict about a third of migraine sufferers. Most don't know the visual symptoms could be pointing to a potentially life-threatening heart defect called Patent Foramen Ovale or PFO. Ziyad Hijazi: We believe that 50% of patients who have migraine with aura have PFO. Casey Taylor: The hole in the heart leaves a person at high risk for stroke. Ziyad Hijazi: If your migraine is the migraine with aura, and you get it at least a few times a month, the first test that you should have is an echocardiogram to see if you have a PFO or not. Casey Taylor: In addition to stroke, migraine with aura has been linked to an increased risk of heart attack and depression. Dr. Stil Kountakis says sinus headaches and migraines often get confused. Stil Kountakis: Migraine headaches, I have a lot of headache patients that come to my office saying, I have got the sinus. "I have got the sinus." Most of the time what they describe is a vascular type of headache. Casey Taylor: Although Maria McIntyre's migraines haven't amounted to anything more serious, she's fought hard to get an accurate diagnosis. Maria McIntyre: You know, going back to your doctors and saying there is something else. Casey Taylor: Efforts that will hopefully safeguard her future. I am Casey Taylor reporting.