In the United States, more than 37 million people battle crippling pain, nausea and vision changes associated with migraine headaches. Now, those people may be at a higher risk for stroke, as well. A link between migraine and stroke has long been suspected and new research is beginning to add more support to the idea that there is a link between the two conditions.
A preliminary study that was presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions in November, found that women that have a history of migraine headaches might have an increased risk of stroke, as well. Researchers at the University of Florida studied more than 900 women that were being assessed for heart disease. About 25 percent of those women reported a history of migraines. The study found that there was a more than 50 percent higher risk of stroke among the women in the study that reported migraines within a six-year period of time.
Before this most recent study that took place in November, previous research found a connection between migraine, especially the kind that is accompanied by an aura, with risk for stroke. A migraine with aura refers to a migraine that is accompanied by changes in vision, such as zigzag lines or flashes of light in your field of vision. These migraines are often quite disturbing for the person experiencing them. According to research that was presented at the American Stroke Association’s 2016 International Stroke Conference, researchers found that people that have migraine headaches with auras are more than twice as likely to have a stroke caused by a blood clot compared to migraine sufferers that do not have the aura. All of these studies definitely point to a link between stroke and migraine.
What Should I Do If I Have Migraine?
If you suffer from migraine, one of the most important things to do is to talk with your healthcare provider about your symptoms. There are certain medications that may raise your risk for migraine-associated stroke, such as hormone replacement therapy. Research has found that women that take hormone replacement therapy containing estrogen and that also have migraines with aura are at a significant risk for stroke. Therefore, it is important to talk with your physician whenever you have a migraine. In spite of the large number of people who have migraines, they are still largely misunderstood. A migraine is not the same as an ordinary headache. It is actually a collection of complex neurological symptoms and is usually more severe than a typical headache. In addition, a collection of symptoms that are not seen in regular headaches may accompany a migraine. Some of these symptoms include sensitivity to light or sound, temporary vision loss, nausea or vomiting. If you have migraine symptoms, definitely have a conversation with your doctor about it. Your physician can assess stroke risk factors, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking to determine if you are at risk for stroke.