Study: Migraine Raises Risk of Stroke

Study: Migraine Raises Risk of Stroke

Reported November 19, 2009

(Ivanhoe Newswire) — Migraine headaches more than double the chances of the most common kind of stroke, which occurs when blood supply to the brain is suddenly cut off by a blood clot or plaque buildup.

Pooling results from 21 studies involving 622,381 men and women, researchers at Johns Hopkins have affirmed that the risk of stroke for those with migraines is 2.3 times greater than for those without. For those who experience aura, the sighting of flashing lights, zigzag lines and blurred side vision along with migraines, the risk of so-called ischemic stroke is 2.5 times higher, and in women, 2.9 times as high.

Study participants, living mostly in North America and Europe, were between the ages 18 and 70, and none had suffered a stroke prior to enrollment.

Senior study investigator and cardiologist Saman Nazarian, M.D., assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and its Heart and Vascular Institute, was quoted as saying, “Identifying people at highest risk is crucial to preventing disabling strokes. Based on this data, physicians should consider addressing stroke risk factors in patients with a history or signs of light flashes and blurry vision associated with severe headaches.”



According to Nazarian, widespread use of hormone-controlling drugs may explain why women with migraines have such high risk of ischemic stroke. Contraceptives and other estrogen therapies are both known to contribute to long-term risk factors for cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

Prevention and treatment options for migraine, said Nazarian, range from smoking cessation to taking anti-blood pressure or blood-thinning medications such as aspirin. In women with migraines, ceasing use of oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy may be recommended.

SOURCE: Presented at the American Heart Association Annual Scientific Sessions, Orlando, FL, November 16, 2009