Migraines linked to heart problems

Alicia Farmer
February 1, 2018

The average age for migraine diagnosis was 35, with 71% of participants being women.

Around 25 per 1,000 of these people were at risk, compared to 17 per 1,000 of patients who didn't have headaches.

Anti-inflammatory drugs are associated with increased risks of heart problems, while immobilisation related to migraine attacks may be behind the increase in the risk of blood clot.

"Accumulating evidence supports that migraine should be considered as an important risk factor for most cardiovascular diseases in both men and women", Adelborg said. There were 45 patients with migraine who had a stroke compared with 25 patients who did not have migraines.

A migraine is usually a moderate to severe headache, that causes a throbbing pain on one side of the head, according to the NHS.

To look into this further, researchers from Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark and Stanford University in the United States of America set out to examine the risks of heart conditions in people who experienced migraines compared with those who didn't.

Over a period of 19 years, the researchers found that migraine was positively associated with heart attack, stroke, blood clots and irregular heart rate.

Even though it showed a link between heart problems and migraines, wider research is still in its infancy.

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The association was stronger for women and for those with migraine who also experienced aura - a warning sign of migraine onset involving seeing flashing lights, blind spots and zig-zag patterns.

The researchers, from Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark and Stanford University in the USA, did not examine exactly why there is such a strong link between migraines and cardiovascular disease.

"Unfortunately, funding for migraine research has been seriously neglected".

Mayo Clinic cardiologist Dr. Gerald Fletcher suspects migraines and heart problems both have at least one serious risk factor in common.

Migraine patients who want to reduce their stroke risk should consider taking steps to lower their blood pressure, including exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet, Fletcher suggested.

In response to the study, Julie Ward, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, told HuffPost UK: "We know that, in women, there is already an association between migraines and an increased risk of heart attack or stroke".

Stroke, coronary heart disease, heart attacks and angina are all types of cardiovascular disease.

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