Migraines Associated with Cardiovascular Risk Factors.





Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Migraine
Professional Data: Migraine


As anyone who has experienced one knows, there is absolutely nothing like a migraine headache. A migraine headache can be debilitating for hours and sometimes for days. The migraine headache is considered a vascular headache, although the precise mechanism and cause remain unknown. There are several known triggers, some of which include food allergies, blood sugar disturbances, stress load, mechanical injury, and hormonal fluctuations. Treating a migraine means working with these triggers.

Migraine may be classified as migraine without aura, formerly called common migraine, or migraine with aura, formerly known as classic migraine. The differences are based upon the presence or absence of neurologic symptoms prior to the onset of headache. The aura may consist of flashing lights, or zigzag lines, or may manifest as blind spots in the vision. Some people even experience speech difficulty, tingling in the face or hands, confusion, or weakness of an arm or leg. The majority of people suffering from classic migraine have an aura that develops 10-30 minutes prior to development of the actual headache. According to recent studies, the aura is believed to be the response to a trigger that creates a neuronal depression. This may result in as much as a 25-35 percent reduction in cerebral blood flow, and is certainly enough to cause the symptoms associated with the aura.

A recent study published in the journal Neurology, stated that migraines with aura are associated with a risk of stroke. This study examined the role of migraines and cardiovascular risk factors. Using participants from the Genetic Epidemiology of Migraine study, 620 migraine sufferers were studied as well as 5,135 controls. 31% had migraine with aura and 64% did not. Researchers measured blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking, oral contraceptive use, and measured potential risk of cardiovascular diseases. The results showed that people with migraines were more likely to smoke and less likely to consume alcohol. Those with aura had an increased cholesterol profile and blood pressure and report early onset of heart disease or stroke. The authors concluded that, “Migraineurs, particularly with aura, have a higher cardiovascular risk profile than individuals without migraine.”1


1.Scher AI, et al. Cardiovascular Risk Factors and Migraine. NEUROLOGY 2005;64:614-620.