Researchers who carried out a new analysis of the Women’s Health Study in Boston in November, 2016 have found that women who get migraine headaches, particularly those without auras, may be at increased risk of hypertension.
They concluded that there is 11 percent increased incident hypertension risk associated with history of migraine with auras, but 27 percent increased risk among those who experience migraines without auras.
This strange association between hypertension and migraine has mostly been explored in case-controlled and cross-sectional studies, and according to the authors, the results from this research has been mixed.
It’s not clear from all these studies whether frequent migraine attacks increase the risk of hypertension, or maybe hypertension increases chances of a person getting a migraine, said lead author, Laura Wise, ScD, Burgham, and Women’s Hospital, Boston Massachusetts.
Dr Wise presented results of her new analysis here at 2017 Annual Meeting (AAN) of American Academy of Neurology.
The Women’s Health Study, started as a randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to assess the effects of low-dose vitamin and aspirin on the primary prevention of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
In mid 1980s, the detailed study consisting of almost 53,000 US women aged 47 years and older without any history of cancer, cardiovascular disease, or other major illnesses was carried out. The trial ended in January 1989, but observation follow-up is ongoing year-after-year. The data presented are current to the mid of 2016, said Dr Wise.
At the start of this study, all participants were clearly asked if they had experienced any migraine attacks. If they experienced such an headache in the past year, they were asked about the characteristics and frequency of the attacks, including presence of any aura.
On the basis of their responses, researchers further divided the participating women into four separate categories:(1) active migraine with aura, 92) no history of migraines (3) past history of migraine, and (4) active migraine without any aura.
Incident hypertension in this study was defined as a completely new physician diagnosis or a new self-reported diastolic blood pressure of 90 mmHg or greater or systolic blood pressure of 140 mmHg or greater.
As most of the migraine treatments use antihypertensive medications, women in the study were quickly censored when any of them reported any initiation of these medications and so they were never considered to be incident cases. Women with any history of hypertension were also excluded or those with any missing information were also excluded by researchers.
The women in this research were followed for a mean of 10.4 years. At baseline, the normotensive population included 31,050 women with real data on current migraine status. Out of these, 22,911 women reported absolutely no history of migraines, 1417 reported active migraine with auras, 2386 reported active migraine without aura, and 1510 women reported a part history of migraine.