Migraine sufferers are more likely to have a stroke before the age of 60, new research warns.
And women who get debilitating headaches may also be at a slightly higher risk of suffering a heart attack, according to the findings.
Researchers found that women and men who experience migraine also carry an elevated risk of having an ischemic stroke, but women alone may carry an additional risk of heart attack and hemorrhagic stroke.
Study leader Doctor Cecilia Hvitfeldt Fuglsang, of Aarhus University, Denmark, said: “People diagnosed with migraine are believed to have a higher risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke before the age of 60.
“Previous studies have suggested that the increased risk of ischemic stroke – when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel to the brain – mostly affects young women.
“It was unclear whether women with migraine also carry a higher risk of heart attack and hemorrhagic stroke – when an artery in the brain bursts – compared to men, which was the aim of the new research.”
Her team conducted a nationwide study of Danish medical records collected from 1996 to 2018, from people aged 18 to 60.
They identified men and women with migraine based on their prescription drug records and compared their risk of a heart attack and ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke before the age of 60 to the risks faced by people in the general population who didn’t suffer migraine.
Contrary to earlier findings, the analysis showed that both men and women with migraine had a similarly increased risk of ischemic stroke.
However, women with migraine may also carry a slightly higher risk of heart attack and hemorrhagic stroke, compared to men with migraine and the general population.
Overall, the results, published in PLOS Medicine, suggest that women are more greatly impacted by migraine, especially since the condition is predominantly diagnosed in women.
The researchers point out that since they used prescription drug records to identify patients with migraine, they may have missed untreated people, which could have resulted in an underestimation of the contribution of migraine to those health problems.
They say it is vital to identify people at increased risk to enable targeted preventative therapies.
Dr. Hvitfeldt Fuglsang added: “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.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
Edited by Saba Fatima and Asad Ali
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