Could a migraine mean something more?

Could a migraine mean something more?

The results of a new study may make your head hurt.

A team of scientists in Germany and the U.S. are suggesting a correlation between migraines and cardiovascular disease and death later in life.

Migraines most commonly affect women and are known for their pervasiveness and throbbing sensation. Many times, they are accompanied by something referred to as an aura, which is characterized by symptoms such as flashing lights, blind spots in one’s vision and a loss of balance.

Researchers analyzed the health of more than 115,000 women aged 25-42 over the course of 22 years. Approximately 17,500 participants reported migraines in the beginning of the study, and upon follow-up, 1,329 experienced cardiovascular events, with 223 having died from cardiovascular disease.

Adjusting for factors such as smoking, hypertension, age, hormone therapy, etc., the risk of cardiovascular events and stroke was 50% higher in those women who experienced migraines than those who did not. The results led researchers to ascertain that migraines “should be considered an important risk marker for cardiovascular disease, at least in women.”

“Previous research has often associated patients who have migraines with aura to an increased risk of stroke,” says Dr. Ravi Ramana, a cardiologist at the Advocate Heart Institute at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill. “And more recent research has suggested this may be related to various heart defects that can be “closed” with a relatively minor procedure. However, this study suggests a correlation—but not a cause-and-effect relationship—of women patients with migraines to have an increased risk of heart attacks. This may be due to the underlying cause of migraines as part of a systemic disorder affecting the blood vessels of the entire body.”

“For now, migraine suffering may be used as a reason to further closely evaluate and treat these patients for their potential increased risk of heart disease,” he says.

Although the research team only analyzed women participants, they anticipate the results would be the same for men. If you suffer from migraines, notify your primary care physician.

Do you know your risk for heart disease? Take Advocate Heart Institute’s heart risk assessment here. If you are at high risk, see an Advocate cardiologist within 24 hours.

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  1. My migraines with aura are triggered by MSG (monosodium glutamate) and all of its various forms such as autolyzed proteins, hydrolyzed proteins, and isolated proteins that are used as cheaper fillers and preservatives. This garbage used in our food I’m betting is harming people’s cardiovascular systems. The best way to avoid MSG is to read your food labels and let your dollars speak to these crooked food companies that put this junk into our food supply.

    I avoid MSG in all of its form and I have not had an aura migraine in years. The medical industry at least now sees the correlation between MSG and heart issues. How about adjusting the study to take into account MSG poisoning???

  2. Veronica Oregon June 8, 2016 at 2:20 pm · Reply

    Hi my name is Veronica I’m 51 and I’ve been suffering from migraines all my life at the age of 12 I’ve seen so many doctors threw my hole life many many test so many pill’s and my migraines have gotten so bad as I’m getting older my body is going threw it’s changes it’s come to the point that the only thing that helps me are injections (shots). I now have headaches every day and I’m not ever sure when the next migraine is coming.Don’t know what to do please help me .

  3. I had been suffering migraines since about 2003. Over time they increased in intensity and in numbers until I was getting very intense migraines every day for the last three years. An IGG food allergy panel run in November of 2015 revealed that I was sensitive to bakers yeast. I eliminated bakers yeast from my diet, and POOF! within four days my migraines were gone and have been ever since. I had tried many, many preventive medications, I eliminated foods known to trigger migraines, and made sure I got enough sleep and didn’t skip meals, but all of these strategies failed to help. So, when I started on the diet I was sure that this, too, would lead to a dead end. To my surprise, it worked! All migraines need to be investigated into further to find the cause, whatever it may be, instead of the symptoms, in most cases, only being treated. Preventive medications be prescribed, until the cause has been identified. Long term use of preventive medications, without further testing, only provide a Band-Aid. I believe the migraine itself is a symptom of some other underlying condition, and until the entire medical community recognizes that ALL migraine sufferers should have further testing, ALOT of migraine sufferers will go on suffering needlessly, and, according to this article, remain at risk for developing major medical conditions.

About the Author

Holly Brenza
Holly Brenza

Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is the public affairs coordinator at Advocate Children's Hospital. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.