It’s very frustrating when others fail to understand why a person suffering from migraine has to take day off from school or work to handle the attack. It’s not easy to explain to others that a migraine is much more than a headache. In fact, many have difficulty in focusing during an attack, which automatically affects their performance and projects.
Women who experience migraine attacks are more prone to risk of stroke, according to a January 2011 study presented at an American Heart Association scientific meeting. These findings are preliminary, and have not yet been published in a detailed peer-reviewed medical journal. But they do suggest a direct link between these two conditions.
The study I mentioned above involved 919 women, 223 of whom had confirmed history of migraine attacks. Over a five-year period, those in the migraine group had about 84 percent higher risk of experiencing some cardiovascular event (such as stroke or a heart attack), compared to the people who never experienced any migraine attack.
Most of that increased risk to women was mainly due to stroke: women with migraines are 2.9 times more likely to experience a stroke during this study than those who didn’t.
Also, women are five times more likely to experience migraine headaches than men, and many studies suggest that they also experience monthly drop in estrogen levels, before their periods, which might be one big contributing factor.
Migraines have often been linked to many cardiovascular issues in the past research, as well. In two studies presented in March 2018, for example, it was found that women with migraines with auras-audible or visual sensations that accompany the migraine pain-are at much increased risk of stroke, mainly due to sudden development of blood clots. And a report published in December 2017 suggested a direct link between migraines and stroke, heart attack, and heart surgery.
However, other two researches were not able to establish this kind of straight link. Daniel A. Rambarat, MD, co-author of the study, and a internal medicine resident based at University of Florida feels that the same group of women followed for just five years in previous study, a direct link between migraines and cardiovascular diseases risk could not be established.
These new findings are very unique, he feels, in that they first compare long-term and short-term follow-ups on various cardiovascular risk, and finally discover conflicting results.
That’s definitely a valuable finding, he feels, since most of the women migraine sufferers are relatively young. “cardiovascular events won’t show up until an older age, so maybe migraine could be a potential symptom that can be used in younger women to properly follow them up more closely and somehow optimize their risk at a much younger age.
Lowering their risk also means prescribing aspiring at a much younger age to women suffering from migraines, says Dr. Rambarat, especially for those who also have a clear history of heart disease.
But Dr. Rambarat feels more research is required before these findings can be confirmed. So until then, it’s best for women with migraines to discuss this with their doctors-and to focus solely on healthy lifestyle to keep heart disease and stroke at bay.
“With the passage of time, your doctor may lower threshold to monitor you or do more testing for some signs and symptoms,” he says. “And because women are at potentially higher risk for developing various cardiovascular diseases, it’s best to pay attention to exercise and healthy eating.