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Migraines seen as risk factor for cardiovascular problems

Migraine is associated with increased risks of cardiovascular problems including heart attacks, strokes, blood clots and an irregular heart rate, researchers say


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Migraines are associated with increased risks of cardiovascular problems including heart attacks, strokes, blood clots and an irregular heart rate, researchers have found.

A study suggests that ‘migraine should be considered a potent and persistent risk factor for most cardiovascular diseases in both men and women’.

Around one billion people worldwide are affected by migraine. While the link between migraine, strokes and heart attacks was known, the links with other heart problems were less understood.

Researchers from Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark and Stanford University in California considered patient data from the Danish National Patient Registry from 1995 to 2013. They compared 51,000 people with migraine and 510,000 people who were migraine-free.

Advice to clinicians

For every 1,000 patients, 25 of those with migraine had a heart attack compared with 17 migraine-free patients, and 45 patients with migraine had an ischaemic stroke compared with 25 migraine-free patients.

These associations persisted after taking account of body mass index and smoking.

The associations, particularly for strokes, were stronger in the first year of diagnosis than in the long term in patients with migraine aura – such as seeing flashing lights – and in women than in men.

The authors suggest clinicians ‘consider whether patients at particularly high risk of heart disease would benefit from anticoagulant treatment’.


Adelborg K et al (2018) Migraine and risk of cardiovascular diseases: Danish population based matched cohort study. BMJ. doi:10.1136/bmj.k96

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