Migraine and Heart Disease: The Link Intensifies

Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH


March 02, 2018

Hello. I'm Dr Arefa Cassoobhoy, a practicing internist, Medscape advisor, and senior medical director for WebMD. Welcome to Morning Report, our 1-minute news story for primary care.

We've known for some time that migraine is a risk factor for stroke. Now, new research[1] shows that migraine also raises risk for other types of cardiovascular disease.

More than 50,000 people with migraine were matched with a cohort of 500,000. The median age at diagnosis of migraine was 35 years, and 71% of the study population were women. Follow-up was for 19 years.

The risk for vascular disease was highest during the first year after migraine diagnosis, with an eightfold increased risk for stroke and a twofold increased risk for heart attack, venous thromboembolism, and atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter. The absolute risks were small, but the associations persisted long-term and were stronger in patients with migraine aura and in women compared with men.

So what can we do with this knowledge? We don't know whether reducing the frequency or severity of migraine will reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease. But we can be more aggressive with lowering other risk factors that we know make a difference while we wait for more research.

Follow Dr Cassoobhoy on Twitter: @ArefaMD


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