Migraines and Higher Heart Trouble Risk: Is There A Link?

Migraine sufferers might have to worry about more than just dealing with debilitating headaches.

Migraine patients could also face an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots.





The risk to heart health appears to be strongest in the first year after diagnosis of migraine, but persists for as long as two decades, said lead researcher Dr. Kasper Adelborg. He is a postdoctoral fellow of clinical epidemiology at the Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark.


Migraines: Statistics

Migraine affects about 15 percent of people, mainly women, and was the second leading cause of years lost to disability in 2016, according to background information provided by the researchers.

According to the researchers, for every 1,000 people:

  • 25 migraine patients had a heart attack, compared with 17 migraine-free people.
  • 45 migraine sufferers had a blood clot-related stroke versus 25 without the headache disorder.
  • 27 migraine patients developed life-threatening blood clots in their veins, compared with 18 people without migraines.
  • 47 people with migraine developed an irregular heartbeat, versus 34 migraine-free people.


Migraines: Research Results

Researchers  reviewed case histories of  51,000 migraine sufferers and compared them to 510,300 non-migraine patients.

The findings showed that migraine patients more frequently suffered a host of heart- and blood vessel-related health problems.

Migraines remained linked to these heart problems even after researchers took into account other risk factors, such as excess weight or smoking.


Migraines: How To Link To Heart Problems?

Cerebral arteries sometimes suddenly constrict during a migraine, which could increase stroke risk. People suffering from a migraine also often lie down for long periods of time, which can make blood clots more likely.

Mayo Clinic cardiologist Dr. Gerald Fletcher suspects migraines and heart problems both have at least one serious risk factor in common; high blood pressure.

Migraine patients who want to reduce their stroke risk should consider taking steps to lower their blood pressure, including exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet.

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