New study links migraines to increased risk of cardiovascular problems

Migraine sufferers could be at an increased risk of certain heart problems according to new research. — 9nong/ pic via AFP
Migraine sufferers could be at an increased risk of certain heart problems according to new research. — 9nong/ pic via AFP

COPENHAGEN, Feb 2 — New international research has found that migraine sufferers may also have an increased risk of cardiovascular problems including heart attacks, stroke, blood clots, and an irregular heart rate.

Carried out by researchers from Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark, and Stanford University, US, together the team looked at patient data taken from the Danish National Patient Registry to analyse if those with migraines have a higher risk of heart conditions including heart attacks; stroke; peripheral artery disease (narrow arteries which reduces blood flow to limbs); blood clots and fast and irregular heart rates.

The registry enabled the researchers to compare data from over 51,000 people who had been diagnosed with migraines with over 510,000 people without migraine over a 19-year period.

They found that migraines were positively associated with heart attack, stroke, blood clots and irregular heart rate.

For example, for every 1,000 patients, 25 patients with migraines had a heart attack compared with 17 migraine-free patients, and 45 patients with migraines had an ischemic stroke (blood clot in the brain) compared with 25 migraine-free patients.

However, no significant association was found between migraine and peripheral artery disease or heart failure.

In addition, the researchers also found that in women and in patients with migraine aura (warning signs before a migraine, such as seeing flashing lights) the associations found between migraine and heart problems were stronger in the first year of diagnosis than in the long term, when compared to men and those without migraine aura, particularly for stroke.

The findings follow previous research which has suggested a link between migraine and stroke and heart attacks, particularly among women. However, previously a link between migraine and other heart problems has not been well understood.

The authors suggest that there are various reasons why migraine may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease risk, one being that migraine sufferers often use anti-inflammatory drugs, which are associated with increased risks of heart problems. Immobilization related to migraine attacks may also increase the risk of blood clots.

Although the team acknowledged that the absolute risks were low, they concluded that “migraine should be considered a potent and persistent risk factor for most cardiovascular diseases in both men and women.”

The findings can be found published online in The BMJ. — AFP-Relaxnews

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