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Migraine With Aura Doubles Risk Of Stroke

Date:
October 29, 2009
Source:
BMJ-British Medical Journal
Summary:
Migraine with aura (temporary visual or sensory disturbances before or during a migraine headache) is associated with a twofold increased risk of stroke, finds a new study. Further risk factors for stroke among patients with migraine are being a woman, being young, being a smoker and using estrogen-containing contraceptives.

Migraine with aura (temporary visual or sensory disturbances before or during a migraine headache) is associated with a twofold increased risk of stroke, finds a study published on the British Medical Journal website. Further risk factors for stroke among patients with migraine are being a woman, being young, being a smoker, and using estrogen containing contraceptives.

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The risk was highest among young women with migraine with aura who smoke and use estrogen containing contraceptives.

Migraine is a common, chronic disorder that affects up to 20% of the population. Women are affected up to four times more often than men. Up to one third of sufferers also experience an aura prior to or during a migraine headache (often described as the perception of a strange light, an unpleasant smell or confusing thoughts or experiences).

Doctors have long suspected a connection between migraine and vascular events such as stroke. So to investigate this further, an international team of researchers analysed the results of nine studies on the association between any migraine (with and without aura) and cardiovascular disease. Differences in study design and quality were taken into account to minimise bias.

They show that migraine with aura is associated with a twofold increased risk of ischemic stroke. This risk is further increased by being female, age less than 45 years, smoking, and estrogen containing contraceptive use.

There was no association between migraine and heart attack or death due to cardiovascular disease.

In light of these findings, the authors recommend that young women who have migraine with aura should be strongly advised to stop smoking, and methods of birth control other than estrogen containing contraceptives should be considered. They also call for additional research to investigate the association between migraine and cardiovascular disease in more detail.

The absolute risk of stroke for most migraine patients is low, so a doubling of risk is not cause for panic, explains Elizabeth Loder from Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, in an accompanying editorial. However, at a population level, this risk deserves attention because the prevalence of migraine is so high. She suggests that patients who have migraine with aura should be followed closely and treated aggressively for modifiable cardiovascular risk factors.


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The above story is based on materials provided by BMJ-British Medical Journal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Migraine With Aura Doubles Risk Of Stroke." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091028090654.htm>.
BMJ-British Medical Journal. (2009, October 29). Migraine With Aura Doubles Risk Of Stroke. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091028090654.htm
BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Migraine With Aura Doubles Risk Of Stroke." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091028090654.htm (accessed March 29, 2015).

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