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Migraine with aura doubles the risk of stroke

Migraine with aura (temporary visual or sensory disturbances before or during a migraine headache) is associated with a twofold increased risk of stroke, finds a study published on bmj.com today.

Further risk factors for stroke among patients with migraine are being a woman, being young, being a smoker, and using oestrogen-containing contraceptives.

The risk was highest among young women with migraine with aura who smoke and use oestrogen-containing contraceptives.

Doctors have long suspected a connection between migraine and vascular events such as stroke. So to investigate this further, an international team of researchers analysed the results of nine studies on the association between any migraine (with and without aura) and cardiovascular disease. Differences in study design and quality were taken into account to minimise bias.

They show that migraine with aura is associated with a twofold increased risk of ischemic stroke. This risk is further increased by being female, age less than 45 years, smoking, and oestrogen containing contraceptive use.

There was no association between migraine and heart attack or death due to cardiovascular disease.

BMJ