Migraines Potentially Linked to Stroke, Heart Attack in Females

Females diagnosed with migraines had a 50% higher rate of cardiovascular events.

Findings from a recent study suggest that females who have migraines have an increased risk of stroke or heart attack compared with women who do not have migraines.

There were 115,500 women included in the Nurses’ Health Study 2, which was published by the British Medical Journal. Patients included were between 25- and 42-years-old and did not have cardiovascular disease at the baseline.

Approximately 15% (17,531) of participants were diagnosed with migraines. In participants diagnosed with migraines, 1329 had a cardiovascular event during the course of the study, and 223 died as a result.

"Our analysis suggests that migraine should be considered an important risk marker for cardiovascular disease, particularly in women," said lead researcher Tobias Kurth, MD, MSc, ScD. "The risk of developing cardiovascular events was shown to be 50% higher in women with a diagnosis of migraine. When compared to women unaffected by the condition, the risk of developing a heart attack was 39% higher for women with migraine, the risk of having a stroke 62% higher, and that of developing angina 73% higher."

Further research is needed to identify the causes of these occurrences in order to create preventative treatments and to determine whether the male population is also at risk, according to the study.

“Migraine has a high prevalence in the general population. Consequently, there is an urgent need to understand the biological mechanisms and processes to provide preventative solutions for patients with migraine,” the researchers concluded.