Diabetes, Heart and Cardiovascular Diseases News Chronicle.  Diabetes, Cardiovascular and Heart Diseases
 Article 324
    Published on April 14, 2018

A migraine is a risk factor for heart attack, ischemic stroke, atrial fibrillation and cardiovascular disease

Around 39 million people were affected with a migraine in the United States. People between 2 to 3 million are suffering from a chronic migraine condition. A Danish observational study shows an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, stroke and heart attack with a migraine headache. The study also shows a migraine is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases.

Researchers have conducted analytical studies on 51,032 people with a migraine and another 510,320 migraine-free people. They used Danish National Patient Registry records between 1995-2013 for this purpose. They matched each migraine person's record with another ten migraine-free people's record of same sex and age to find out the link between a migraine headache and cardiovascular diseases.

Their study findings show likely heart attack, stroke or atrial fibrillation events among people with a migraine compared to migraine-free people. Researchers have found this association even after accounting other risk factors for cardiovascular diseases such as diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure or hypertension, obesity or body mass index (BMI). The following table shows heart disease events per 1,000 migraine people compared to 1,000 migraine-free people.

Type of
heart disease event
Number of people affected
in migraine group
Number of people affected
in the migraine-free group
Heart attack 25 17
Ischemic stroke 45 25
Atrial fibrillation 47 34
Heart failure Number of affected people found to be same
Peripheral artery disease No association found

Following people found to have the maximum risk of atrial fibrillation (AFib) or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), heart attack and stroke. The association is more in these people during the first year after diagnosis of a migraine headache.

Even though the quantum of cardiovascular risk to an individual with a migraine is small, there is a number of people (both men and women) affected with a migraine as it is a common disease. Authors say a migraine should be considered as a strong and persistent risk factor for cardiovascular diseases.

Researchers say there is a need to find out drugs and treatments to reduce additional cardiovascular risks associated with a migraine or to reduce the number of migraine attacks in a person. Researchers did not show the cause-effect relationship as this study is an observational study.

A migraine is a risk factor for heart attack, stroke, atrial fibrillation and cardiovascular disease.

Co-author of the study was Henrik Toft Sorensen, MD, PhD, DrMedSci, Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Aarhus University Hospital (AUH), Aarhus, Denmark. The study findings were published 31 January 2018 in the BMJ. Title of the article was "Migraine and risk of cardiovascular diseases: Danish population based matched cohort study." DOI : doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k96

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Migraine : A migraine is a headache with moderate to severe intensity and a recurring disorder affecting 15 percent of the people. But all headaches are not migraines. A migraine headache lasts between 4 to 72 hours affecting more women than men. Following are the symptoms of a migraine headache.

  • Migraine headache intensity is vulnerable to sound, light or smell.
  • Vision problems.
  • Dizziness.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Worsening of a headache with physical activity.
  • Pain on one side of the head.
  • Headache pain is of pulsating in nature.

Environmental and genetic factors and changes in the hormone levels may be the reasons for migraines. Nerves and blood vessels in the brain also play a role. These are triggered due to hormonal changes, stress, exercise, some foods and some drinks. Drugs are available for the treatment of migraines.



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