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Migraine May Be Potential Threat to Heart Health

Individuals with migraine may be at an increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, blood clots, and irregular heart rates, according to a recent study. Although the connection of migraine to the risk of heart problems is strongest in the first year after diagnosis, it can last for as long as 20 years.

“Accumulating evidence supports that migraine should be considered as an important risk factor for most cardiovascular diseases in both men and women,” lead researcher Kasper Adelborg, MD told HealthDay.

Researchers viewed the records of patients at Danish hospitals and outpatient clinics. Of the more than 500,000 patients, nearly 10% were migraine patients. These individuals with migraine were more likely to encounter heart- and blood-vessel-related health problems.

However, a cause-and-effect relationship between migraine and other health problems was not proven.

What researchers did find is that individuals with migraine were more likely to have had a heart attack (25 for every 1,000 compared to 17 for every 1,000 other patients). Also, 45 individuals with migraine had a blood clot-related stroke compared to 25 patients without migraine. Individuals with migraine were also more likely to develop life-threatening blood clots and irregular heartbeats.

“We now have plenty of evidence that migraine should be taken seriously as a strong cardiovascular risk marker,” said Dr. Tobias Kurth, an adjunct professor of epidemiology with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in an editorial that accompanied the study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

Researchers concluded that an individual’s risk of cardiovascular problems does not automatically increase with the presence of migraine, but that the increased risk must be taken seriously.

“Although the absolute risks of cardiovascular diseases were low at the individual level, it translates into a substantial increased risk at the population level, because migraine is a very common disease,” Dr. Adelborg said.

  • Maria k-judge
    Posted at 20:58h, 23 February

    I have had serious migraines for 20 yrs. the last 12 yrs they are unrelenting since I had a serious TBI. I have also had 2 strokes within last 2 yrs. I have always suspected all of this is connected and it appears I have been right. Not that it helps my condition any!

  • Alansa Bates
    Posted at 13:30h, 22 February

    Do these statistics still hold if an older woman has not had migraines for ab out five years due to getting older?

  • Marlene
    Posted at 12:20h, 22 February

    is this increased risk more likely to happen during migraine?

  • Linda Angell
    Posted at 22:34h, 21 February

    Could there be a more appropriate way to explain or express the relationship between migraine diagnosis and heart problems within the first year? Or could more explanation be given?
    Very interesting brief. However, one suggestion: The way it is written, it sounds like the diagnosis of migraine somehow contributes to elevated heart risk in the first year after the diagnosis event (and for non-technical readers, this could make it sound as if a person could just avoid getting a diagnosis, they would be okay — haha). Yet it is perhaps just that two problems, both involving the cardiovascular system, first have the chance to be ‘connected’ when one of them is diagnosed. And it may also be that whatever leads people to be diagnosed with migraine may lead their doctors to look for —and identify — other co-occurring or co-morbid conditions — such as heart or other cardiovascular issues. (Many migraine specialists will conduct an EKG and/or ask a patient to obtain a cardio exam at the time of first diagnosis — thereby enabling heart issues to be found at this time). The same may be true the other way around. (If a person has a TIA … or a stroke … or angina .. or heart murmur … it may lead to diagnostic work on commonly co-occurring conditions, including migraine… hence enabling the strong link between conditions at time of diagnosis or within the first year or diagnosis.

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