Women with Migraine Are More Likely to Die from Cardiovascular Disease

JUNE 06, 2016
Caitlyn Fitzpatrick
cardiology, pain management, OBGYN, women’s health, migraine, headache, cardiovascular disease, heart attack, strokeA migraine diagnosis in women could mean an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as a higher risk of dying from such conditions.

This isn’t the first time that migraine has been linked with additional health problems. A recent study showed that headaches could increase the risk of birth complications and ongoing research follows the potential migraine/stroke connection. Now a collaborative team of researchers from the United States and Germany looked at heart issues and other risks in the female population.

“The primary outcomes of the study was major cardiovascular disease, a combined endpoint of myocardial infarction, stroke, or fatal cardiovascular disease,” the authors described in The BMJ. “Secondary outcome measures included individual endpoints of myocardial infarction, stroke, angina/coronary revascularization procedures, and cardiovascular mortality.” The analysis included 115,541 women, who were free of angina and cardiovascular disease, gathered form the Nurses’ Health Study II. The women (ages 25 to 42) were followed from 1989 to 2011.

A total of 17,531 patients (15.2%) were diagnosed with migraine. During the follow-up period, there were 1,329 major cardiovascular disease and 223 women died from cardiovascular disease.

After adjusting the results for potential other contributors, migraine was associated with a higher risk of major cardiovascular disease (HR: 1.50), myocardial infarction (HR: 1.39), stroke (HR: 1.62), and angina/coronary revascularization procedures (HR: 1.73), compared to those without headaches.

Regardless of age, smoking status, hypertension, postmenopausal hormone therapy use, and birth control use, there was a significant increased risk in cardiovascular disease mortality (HR: 1.37) for women with migraine.

This 22-year follow-up supports the need to evaluate women with migraine for heart conditions. It also shows that migraine should be red-flagged as a risk marker for cardiovascular disease events.

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