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Migraines in pregnancy linked to heart disease

Migraines during pregnancy may be a precursor to future strokes and heart disease, says research published online in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

This may be because sufferers are also more likely to experience high blood pressure, diabetes and blood clots, according to an analysis of hospital discharge records.

It indicates that female migraine sufferers are 15 times more likely to suffer a stroke and twice as likely to suffer a heart attack or heart disease than women who have had no incidents of migraine.

Migraines are 2.4 times more likely in women aged 40 than those under 20, while a blood clot is three times more likely. This applies more to white women than any other race or ethnicity.

Around 11-26% of women of childbearing age will suffer migraine in an average year, while 33% of women aged 35-39 will have one.

However, the authors point out that stroke in pregnancy is rare, and occurs in only about four women per 100,000 births.

Reasons for the apparent link include the fact that symptoms of the two conditions overlap during pregnancy.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

British Medical Journal