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Sunday 27th May 2018

Migraine link to stroke

21st April 2008

Women who have weekly migraines have a significantly higher risk of having a stroke than those who get the headaches less often, new research has shown.


A study presented at a meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Chicago found that how often a woman has a migraine may play a role in determining her risk for strokes and heart attacks.

Previous studies have supported a link between migraines and strokes, but migraine frequency was not explored until now.

Conversely, those who have infrequent migraines may be more likely to have a heart attack.

Researchers, who included Tobias Kurth, of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, used data from the Women's Health Study, a study of 27,798 women health professionals 45 years and older who did not have cardiovascular disease at the beginning of the study.

Information about migraine frequency and cholesterol levels were recorded in detail when the study began.

Of the sample studied over a 12-year period, 65% said they had a migraine less than once a month, 30% had a monthly migraine, and 5% had migraines at least once a week.

During the course of the study, Kurth's team documented 305 heart attacks, 310 transient ischaemic attacks (TIAs), or 'mini-strokes', and 706 cardiovascular events.

Overall, they found that women who had migraines once a week or more were nearly three times more likely to have a TIA, and one and a half times more likely to have a heart attack, compared with a control group of women without migraines.

But infrequent migraines were no less risky, with women who had the headaches less than once a month one and a half times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.

They also found that women who suffered monthly migraines were not at increased risk, but concluded that further research was needed to address whether migraine prevention reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease.

About three out of four people who get migraines are women, according to government health statistics in the United States.

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