Researchers determined that women suffering from a migraine may have a slightly higher risk of heart disease and stroke than those who do not, a study published Tuesday in the British Medical Journal assured.

The team gathered and analyzed information from the Nurses’ Health Study II, which had more than 100,000 participants in the 20-year study. At the beginning of the survey, the participant women aged 25 to 42 and had not suffered from any heart disease.

Women who suffer from migraine headaches may have a slightly increased risk of heart disease or stroke
A study published Tuesday suggests women who suffer from migraine headaches may have a slightly increased risk of heart disease or stroke. Image Credit: Telegraph

About 15 percent of the women had migraines over the course of the study, more than 1,300 women had a heart attack or stroke, and 223 died from causes related to the studied diseases, as reported by U.S. News Health.

When the ones who had had migraines were compared to those who did not have any, researchers determined that the women who suffered from a complicated headache had a 50 percent greater risk for heart attack stroke. Or even surgery to open blocked heart arteries in comparison to migraine-free women.

More specifically, women with migraines had 39 percent higher risk of heart attack, a 62 percent higher risks of stroke and a 73 percent higher risks of heart surgery said lead researcher Dr. Tobias Kurth, director of the Institute of Public Health at Charite-Universitatsmedizin in Berlin, Germany.

“A migraine should be considered a marker for increased risk of cardiovascular disease, at least in women,” she said, although noted that there is no reason as why the same could not apply to men.

Also, Kurth highlighted that the study did not directly prove cause-and-effect. Kurth’s highlights mean that the survey did not found any direct evidence as why the link between migraines and the other diseases exists.

Physicians should be aware of the association between a migraine and cardiovascular disease, and women with a migraine should be evaluated for their risk. However, there is not scientific evidence that says correctly treating migraine could lower the chances.

Migraines had been previously linked to the increased risk of stroke, but the new findings link it as well with the higher risk of heart attack in the studied women. This conditions brings headaches marked by intense throbbing or pulsing and could be accompanied by nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound.

A known risk factor

According to Dr. Rebecca Burch, the medical community can add a migraine to the list of known risk factors for heart disease. Which can be challenging due to a migraine tends to occur earlier in life, and the cardiovascular disease tends to appear later. Dr. Burch is an instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School in Boston and co-author of an accompanying journal editorial. 

The increased risk of heart disease and stroke related to migraines is likely to be small, so this may not make a large difference to a person, she said. However, because a migraine is so common, that modest increase in risk may be much more meaningful when the population is considered as a whole, Burch added.

Source: U.S. News