Individuals with migraine may be at an increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, blood clots, and irregular heart rates, according to a recent study. Although the connection of migraine to the risk of heart problems is strongest in the first year after diagnosis, it can last for as long as 20 years.
“Accumulating evidence supports that migraine should be considered as an important risk factor for most cardiovascular diseases in both men and women,” lead researcher Kasper Adelborg, MD told HealthDay.
Researchers viewed the records of patients at Danish hospitals and outpatient clinics. Of the more than 500,000 patients, nearly 10% were migraine patients. These individuals with migraine were more likely to encounter heart- and blood-vessel-related health problems.
However, a cause-and-effect relationship between migraine and other health problems was not proven.
What researchers did find is that individuals with migraine were more likely to have had a heart attack (25 for every 1,000 compared to 17 for every 1,000 other patients). Also, 45 individuals with migraine had a blood clot-related stroke compared to 25 patients without migraine. Individuals with migraine were also more likely to develop life-threatening blood clots and irregular heartbeats.
“We now have plenty of evidence that migraine should be taken seriously as a strong cardiovascular risk marker,” said Dr. Tobias Kurth, an adjunct professor of epidemiology with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in an editorial that accompanied the study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
Researchers concluded that an individual’s risk of cardiovascular problems does not automatically increase with the presence of migraine, but that the increased risk must be taken seriously.
“Although the absolute risks of cardiovascular diseases were low at the individual level, it translates into a substantial increased risk at the population level, because migraine is a very common disease,” Dr. Adelborg said.