Does migraine increase the risk of life-threatening diseases?
Migraines in themselves are a heavy burden for the people concerned. Researchers have now found that migraines are also associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular problems such as heart attack, stroke, blood clots and irregular heart rate.
The researchers at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark and Stanford University in the USA found that migraines should be seen as a potent and persistent risk factor for most cardiovascular diseases in men and women. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "British Medical Journal".
A billion people around the world suffer from migraines
According to the new study, around one billion people worldwide are affected by migraines. The disease has a massive impact on the quality of life of those affected and places a significant burden on society. Previous studies have already suggested a link between migraines and strokes and heart attacks, especially in women. Accordingly, women with migraines show a high risk of heart attack and stroke.
The researchers collected medical data for 19 years for their investigation
For the current research, the scientists collected patient data from the Danish national patient registry over a period of 19 years - from 1995 to 2013. The experts compared the results of over 51,000 people diagnosed with migraines with over 510,000 people free of migraines were. For each person with migraines, ten people of the same age and gender who did not suffer from migraines were examined, the experts say. The average age for diagnosing migraines was 35 years and 71 percent of the study participants were women.
How did migraines affect patients?
Over the 19-year study period, the researchers found that migraines were positively associated with the occurrence of a heart attack, stroke, blood clot, and irregular heart rate. For example, 25 patients with migraines had a heart attack per 1,000 patients. In patients without migraines, there were only 17 patients. 45 patients out of 1,000 participants with migraines suffered a so-called ischemic stroke (blood clot in the brain) during the study. For comparison, patients who did not suffer from migraines had only 25 patients.
Women are affected more often than men
The correlations found also existed after taking into account the so-called body mass index (BMI) and smoking. The researchers explain that no meaningful association with peripheral arterial diseases or heart failure was found. The associations, especially with strokes, were stronger in the first year of diagnosis in patients with a so-called migraine aura (warning sign of a migraine) compared to patients without such an aura. They were also more common in women than in men.
Unknown factors could affect the results
The investigation carried out is an observational study. For this reason, no clear conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect. The study authors cannot rule out the possibility that other previously unknown factors, such as physical activity, could have influenced the results. However, the main strengths of the study were a large sample of samples and the long-term follow-up.
Should Patients With Migraines Take Anticoagulants?
Current guidelines for dealing with migraines do not recommend the use of anticoagulants (such as aspirin) to treat the condition. However, doctors speculate whether patients with a particularly high risk of heart disease would benefit from treatment with so-called anticoagulants (anticoagulants).
Migraines seem to be a constant risk factor for cardiovascular diseases
Migraines should be seen as a potent and persistent risk factor for most cardiovascular diseases, the scientists explain. There is now a lot of evidence that migraines should be taken seriously as a strong cardiovascular risk marker, the authors say. Measures to reduce risk have long been overdue, but unfortunately the funding for research into migraines has been seriously neglected so far, the doctors add. (as)