Posted on Jun 14, 2023, 12 p.m.
Those who struggle with migraines are more likely to experience a stroke before the age of 60, and women who are challenged with these debilitating headaches also have a higher risk of heart attack according to research published in PLoS Medicine conducted at Aarhus University.
The researchers discovered that both genders who suffer from migraines are also faced with an increased risk of experiencing an ischemic stroke (when a blockage in the brain creates a sudden loss of blood circulation), but the risk of heart attack and hemorrhagic stroke (when a blood vessel ruptures in the brain causing blood to accumulate and compress surrounding tissue) appears to be higher among women.
For this study, a comprehensive nationwide study of Danish medical records was conducted for those between the ages of 18-60 years old to identify people with migraines based on their prescription drug records. The researchers compared this group of people’s risk of heart attack or stroke before the age of 60 with the corresponding risks faced by their non-migraine-suffering peers from the general population.
The analysis revealed that both genders who experienced migraines had a similar increased risk of ischemic stroke, but women migraine sufferers had a slightly increased risk of heart attack and hemorrhagic stroke compared to their male counterparts and the general public. Findings suggest that women are more adversely affected by migraines, which may be no surprise as in general migraines are known to predominantly affect females.
It was noted that as prescription drug records were used to identify the study samples, it is possible to have overlooked those who choose not to seek treatment for their migraines, and this oversight could have resulted in underestimating the role that this type of headache plays in heart attacks and strokes.
“Migraine was associated with a similarly increased risk of ischemic stroke among young men and women. However, migraine may be associated with an increased risk of myocardial infarction and hemorrhagic stroke only among women,” said the study’s leader, Dr. Cecilia Hvitfeldt Fuglsang of Aarhus University.
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