• Women who have Migraine with Aura Increased Risk of Cardiovascular events

    AAN Report Shows Women who have Migraine with Aura are at Increased Risk of also having Cardiovascular events

    January 25, 2013 08:37 AM

    On January 18th, the American Academy of Neurology announced the results from two separate clinical studies that report women who have migraine with aura are at increased risk of also having cardiovascular events. The results from both of these studies will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology meeting in San Diego, CA (March 16-23, 2013).

    In the newly reported analysis from The Women’s Health Study, authored by Dr. Tobias Kurth, MD, ScD, (of INSERM, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Bordeaux and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston), migraine with aura was considered to be a significant contributor to the development of major cardiovascular events, such as stroke or heart attack. This 15-year study followed 27,860 women, of whom 1,435 had migraine with aura. Aura is a neurological condition involving the outer layer of the brain, and when aura occurs it causes patients to have visual disturbances including flashing lights, wavy lines, or blind spots. Aura may also include numbness or tingling in the face, hand or arm, or difficulty with producing speech and language fluently. In this study, the presence of migraine with visual aura was the second leading contributor to the risk of heart attacks or strokes, surpassed only by the presence of high blood pressure. Surprisingly, a diagnosis of migraine with aura was a higher risk factor for heart attack or stroke compared to diabetes, current smoking, obesity, and even a family history of early heart disease.

    In a second study authored by Dr. Shivang Joshi, MD, MPH, RPh, (of Brigham and Women’s Falkner Hospital in Boston), the risk of cardiovascular disease incidence was evaluated in women who had migrainewith aura and were also taking newer vs. older contraceptives. The results from this study found that women who had migraine with aura were more likely to have experienced blood clot complications such as deep vein thrombosis, regardless of the type of contraceptives when compared to women who had migraine but no aura (migraine without aura). The occurrence of blood clot complications was also higher in women with migraine who took contraceptives as compared to women taking the contraceptives who did not have migraine. Dr. Joshi explains that it will be very important for women who have migraine with aura to include their migraine diagnosis in their medical history, and talk to their doctor about their increased risk of complications when taking contraceptives.

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