Migraine Linked to Stroke Risk

Patients who have migraine with aura may have an elevated stroke risk. Data released by researchers at the 2013 International Headache Congress in Boston, to be published the journal Cephalagia, revealed that this type of migraine carries the same stroke risk as diabetes, morbid obesity, or extreme hypertension.

Researchers used information collected from a long-term study about women's health with almost 28,000 participants, female health professionals at least 45 years old at enrollment between 1993 and 1996.

At baseline, over 5,000 of the women reported they had migraine; 1,435 of these reported migraine with aura. Throughout the 15 years of study follow-up, a total of 528 strokes were identified among participants.

Researchers analyzed all the data, and after adjusting for various risk factors, they found that the "absolute event rate" for stroke, per 1,000 participants per year, was 4.3 for women claiming a diagnosis of migraine with aura.

Patients with diabetes were at a rate of 2.9 per 1,000/ year; high systolic blood pressure at a rate of 3.7; and obesity at a rate of 3.2. Reporting migraine with aura was the highest point estimate among all the potential risk factors analyzed.

The question remains if reducing migraine with aura, using treatment to lessen the frequency or severity of the headaches, can improve the outcome for stroke risk.

Head researcher Dr. Tobias Kurth, of the University of Bordeaux in France, said, "From our data, it is absolutely clear that migraine with aura is a strong contributor to stroke risk. [However,] there are no data available [on] whether modification of migraine, with acute or preventative treatments, will reduce the risk of stroke in the future."

There are many natural, drug-free ways to treat and prevent migraine, including spinal adjustments, massage, and acupuncture , in addition to ginger and even sex.

Perhaps further research will seek whether or not reducing migraine with aura helps limit the risk of stroke.

Kurth T, et al. Relative contribution of migraine with aura on stroke subtypes in women. Data presented at International Headache Conference Boston, MA. Cephalagia 2013; 33 (supplement): 18-19.

Gever J. (2013, July 1). "Migraine with Aura Carries High Stroke Risk." MedPage Today. Retrieved from http://www.medpagetoday.com/MeetingCoverage/IHC/40188.