Which factors increase the risk of vascular diseases in patients with migraine headache?

Updated: Oct 21, 2019
  • Author: Jasvinder Chawla, MD, MBA; Chief Editor: Helmi L Lutsep, MD  more...
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Migraineurs, male and female, have a 2.5-fold increased risk of subclinical cerebellar stroke and those with migraines with aura and increased headache frequency are at the highest risk. [62]

Migraineurs also have a higher incidence of adverse cardiovascular profiles (including diabetes and hypertension), and they are more likely to be smokers, have a family history of early heart attacks, and have an unfavorable cholesterol profile. The odds of an elevated Framingham risk score of coronary artery disease are doubled with migraine with aura, and women who have migraine with aura are more likely to be using oral contraceptives. [63, 64]

The Women's Health Study, which included professional women older than 45 years, showed that any history of migraine is associated with a higher incidence of major cardiovascular disease and that the highest risk is associated with migraine with aura, with a 2.3-fold risk of cardiovascular death and a 1.3-fold risk of coronary vascularization. [65] However, those who have migraine without aura have the same risks as the general population.

These findings have been confirmed in a population-based study by Bigal et al. [66] Similarly, a study by Gudmundsson et al found that men and women who have migraine with aura are at a higher risk for cardiovascular and all-cause mortality than are those without headache. [67]

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