Migraines and Cardiovascular

Posted by Admin on July 18, 2006

They’re painful, they’re debilitating, but could migraines also be deadly? New research says that at least one in five migraine sufferers, if not more, are at an increased risk of death. At the age of 35, Hailey McDad is one of them. That’s because she suffers from migraines with aura. “My hands will tingle, my finger tips will tingle, and I see blurry vision, so I know right away I have to medicate myself, so those are my warning signs,” says Hailey.

Aura symptoms like visual disturbances. They could be numbness of one side of the face or weakness. “I couldn’t physically talk and that easy the worst migraine I had in my life,” Hailey recalls about one migraine. Around twenty percent of those with migraines have aura. Now, new research shows they are an indicator of an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Richard Lipton, Director of the Montefiore Headache Center, says, “What is new about the Kirth study is that he demonstrated really for the first time that women who have migraine with aura really have a high risk of heart attack, angina, and a needing a procedure to treat their corroded arteries.” Compared to those without migraine those with migraine and aura had a greater than 2.1 increased risk of serious cardiovascular disease and a greater than 2.3 percent increase risk of dying from it.

“In general migraine suffers are under served by the health care system. People aren’t availing themselves to the benefits of current treatments we have available,” Dr. Lipton says. So at very least, maybe now there’s a serious enough reason for patients to go seek and get adequate medical care for a condition that appears to be more than just a pain it’s a killer.

“I don’t think this study should frighten woman who have migraine with aura but I do think the important thing is to address what ever risk factors for heart disease you have and those are things in reality that everyone should be doing anyways,” states Dr. Lipton. “I take a low dose aspirin routinely everyday because I am aware of my increased risk for stroke but I also exercise routinely and now I am just trying to increase my cardiovascular output and generally eat a well balanced diet,” says Hailey.

 There is still a big question of what people should do about it…such as be more aggressive at considering a daily aspirin to protect the cardiovascular system. The data is not out yet on men, but it would make sense that if a man has migraine with aura, then yes, he would be at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease and death, especially because men at a younger age are at a higher risk of cardiac death than women.


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