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Against the Migraine

A procedure's serendipitous success hints that some headaches start in the heart

Neurologist Roman Sztajzel received an unexpected letter in 1999 from a patient he had last seen a year and a half earlier. The Swiss woman thanked him for curing her of migraines, which she had experienced frequently into her early 30s. But Sztajzel hadn't treated her for migraines. He'd seen her because she'd had a stroke. Another stroke soon followed. Neither brain attack showed any sign of a typical cause. In search of an explanation, Sztajzel and his colleagues had screened the woman for an abnormal opening between the heart's upper chambers.

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