Migraines during pregnancy are strongly linked to vascular diseases, such as stroke and heart disease, according to new research. Researchers looked at a national database of nearly 17 million women discharged for pregnancy deliveries from 2000-2003. A total of 33,956 of the women were treated for migraines.
The study found women treated for migraines during pregnancy were 19 times more likely to suffer a stroke, five times more likely to have a heart attack and more than twice as likely to have heart disease, blood clots and other vascular problems.
"Women with persistent migraine during pregnancy should be aware of their risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, history of blood clots, heart disease, and prior stroke," said study author Cheryl Bushnell, MD, with Duke University in Durham, NC, and Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology. Bushnell says there also seems to be a connection between migraines and preeclampsia, the most common and dangerous complication of pregnancy. "Good prenatal care is essential," she adds.
The study also found a link between migraines and the age of the mother. Women who were 35 or older when they delivered were more likely to have migraines during pregnancy.
Migraines with aura, or an unpleasant sensation most often in the form of bright light, have previously been linked to stroke and heart disease in women. "This study now supports the same association in women who are pregnant," said Bushnell. "However, further studies are still needed to validate these findings."
These findings were presented at American Academy of Neurology's 59th Annual Meeting in Boston, April 28 -- May 5, 2007
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