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Could migraines increase heart disease risk?

Wednesday 7th February 2018
People who suffer from regular migraines may be more likely to receive a heart disease diagnosis, new research suggests. Image: Wavebreakmedia via iStock
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People who experience recurrent migraines may be more likely to suffer from heart disease compared to their peers who do not have issues with these headaches, according to new research published in the British Medical Journal.

Doctors from the University Hospital in Denmark and Stanford University in California have conducted a 19-year study into the link between migraines and wider health issues, finding that blood clots, heart attacks and strokes are all more likely among migraine sufferers.

Among those regularly affected by migraines, 25 people in every 1,000 suffered a heart attack, compared to an average of 17 in every 1,000 for those who did not experience repeated troublesome headaches.

The risk of a stroke was also higher among migraine sufferers, with 45 in every 1,000 patients affected in comparison to 25 in every 1,000 across the rest of the population.

What's more, stroke patients who had previously been plagued by migraines were more likely to suffer a haemorrhage (11 in every 1,000 people compared to six in 1,000), while peripheral artery disease diagnoses were also more likely (13 in 1,000 in contrast to 11 in 1,000).

Overall, the average age at which people were diagnosed with migraines was found to be 35, with women accounting for almost three-quarters (71 per cent) of sufferers.

As a result, this indicates that people who are otherwise healthy and do not think their migraines are anything to worry about could in fact be at risk of cardiovascular disease and associated problems in the future.

With this in mind, it would be advisable for anyone who suffers from recurring migraines to get their health checked out by a doctor, allowing them to make changes to their lifestyle if needed in order to safeguard their health for the future.

The researchers summarised: "In this nationwide cohort study, migraine was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

"This suggests that migraine should be considered a potent and persistent risk factor for most cardiovascular diseases in both men and women."

Written by Mathew Horton

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