2016: Association of cardiovascular risk and migraine

2016: Association of cardiovascular risk and migraine

A study to evaluate the association between migraine and incident cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular mortality in women has just been published.

There were 115,541 participants aged 25 – 42 years at the start who were free of angina and cardiovascular disease. The participants were drawn from the community of nurses.

The primary outcome of the study was major cardiovascular disease, a combined end-point of myocardial infarction, stroke, or fatal cardiovascular disease. Secondary outcomes measured end-points of myocardial infarction, stroke, angina / coronary revascularization procedures and cardiovascular mortality.

Of the participants above, 17,531 reported a physicians diagnosis of migraine. That represents 15% of the total and gives further strength to the quoted incidence within communities. That percentage represents 2,200,000 women in Australia.
The researchers considered all the co-factors even the factors that might make the nursing community representative of the wider community for reasons of a stressful profession and easier access to medical treatment. They included use of the contraceptive pill, smoking and weight.

The results indicated a consistent link between migraine and cardiovascular disease events including cardiovascular mortality.

That is a stark finding, however, looking closer gives great comfort to the majority. Over 20 years of follow-up, there were “only” 1,329 cardiovascular disease events and that is 7.6% of those identified as having migraine. In the same period, 223 women died from cardiovascular disease and that is 1.3% of those diagnosed with migraine.

Two factors are important. Migraine has a genetic predisposition and so does stroke. Theses are important indicators for those women whose families exhibit those traits to be evaluated for their vascular risk and seek treatment especially if any of the other co-factors such as smoking, use of contraceptive pills and above average BMI are present.

Now, the challenge is to secure funding to identify preventative strategies and treatments to reduce or eliminate the risk of future cardiovascular disease among women suffering migraine and broaden the research to include men with migraine.

There is some comfort in these numbers for all migraine sufferers because the vast majority have the same risk as the general community and, like everyone else, need not be concerned beyond maintaining a lifestyle with quality food, exercise, maintaining a healthy body weight, a variety of mental stimulation, good sleep and happy relationships.


With concern for your health, Headache Australia.

For further reading: see the full study here.

Headache AustralianMigraine & Headache Australia is the only organization in Australia that aims to support the more than 5 million Australians affected by headache and migraine.