Migraines With Aura Linked to Heart Attack, Stroke Risks in Women

    January 16, 2013
    Sean Patterson
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A new study has shown that women who have migraines with aura could be more likely to have heart problems. In addition, those on “newer” contraceptives could be at a higher risk for blood clots. Aura are described as visual disturbances, such as flashing lights.

The link is described in two new studies presented today at the American Academy of Neurology’s 65th Annual Meeting. The first study shows that migraines with aura can contribute to heart attack and stroke risks. Researchers looked at 27,860 women in the Women’s Health Study, 1,435 of whom had migraines with aura.

“After high blood pressure, migraine with aura was the second strongest single contributor to risk of heart attacks and strokes,” said Dr. Tobias Kurth, author of the study and a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology. “It came ahead of diabetes, current smoking, obesity, and family history of early heart disease.”

The second study involved hormonal contraceptives and migraines. Researchers looked at 145,304 women who used contraceptives, 2,691 of whom had migraines with aura and 3,436 who had migraines without aura. The women who had migraines with aura were more likely to have blood clot complications, such as deep vein thrombosis. 7.6% of those women who used newer birth contraceptives such as the patch or ring were found to have deep vein thrombosis, compared to 6.3% of women with aura-less migraines. Blood clot complications were also higher for women who took contraceptives and had migraines compared to those who took contraceptives and did not experience migraines.

  • http://MigrainesandHeartDisease Lynna Ferqueron

    Sorry to hear about the link with migraine and heart disease. What are the percentages and odds of a stroke or heart attack happening? I have been having migraines with auras for thirty years this year, and I do have heart disease, now I get to worry about a stroke too, yeah.

  • Paige

    I was recently diagnosed with auro migraints after have 3 mini strokes. I’m on plavix and the symptoms just continue. No medicine to control this.

  • alisa bashaw

    Articles never seem to mention that alot of woman who suffer from migraines with auras suffer from a condition called psuedotumor or also called intercrainal hypertension. It is a condition where your body creates too much spinal fluid which puts pressure on your brain and causes the visual disturbances, migraines, hearing your blood pump through your body, among other things. I’ve had two brain surgeries to try and correct this issue and not only has this issue not been resolved but it has now developed into eplipespy. because the pressure has continued and now with a rigid tube in my brain it as caused problems deep inside my brain. so i’ve been on pain medication for years now. high high doses of pain medication. I am no longer allowed to drive, i’ve been labeled disabled and are no longer allowed to work and even have a disabled sticker for my car. Someone needs to write an article about this condition because so many woman go years with diagnosis that are wrong when in reality it’s this condition. Sometimes I wish I had a brain tumor at least then I knew what I had ahead of me and what the treatment was. This condition is considered rare (even though I don’t think it is I think more women have it than they know) and the treatment was only about 10 years old when I had it. So they are still figuring it all out. But every day is a crap shoot on whether or not I can get out of bed or even if I’ll remember what happens. Because on top of everything my short term memory has been affected and there are alot of things I have no recollection of. Now they tell me I have a 90% likely hood of a brain aneurysm…Yeah for me!

    • Emma

      I do too suffer migraines with auras since a teenager. I am now 73 years of age and for the last 10plus years these migraines have become occular migraines which last for weeks, just one eye seems to be affected, with these gray/lavender figures. I have also had several eye surgeries on that particular eye, one to remove a multifocal lense which was not placed correctly, etc.etc. Good Luck to you.

  • Vicki

    I had an aura migrain with no pain yesterday after I drank way too much coffee. What scared me was that I was having trouble remember things right after it happened and I was feeling like I could not get my words right. It lasted about 15 minutes. I wonder if I had a stroke or if something is going on.

    • Judith West

      Please see your Dr. immediately. A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is just that – transient. I could not hold my fork and that lasted 15 minutes, too. Luckily I thought to call my Dr. and he told me to go to ER right away. They kept for a couple days of extensive tests and found a 90% blocked carotid artery. Following surgery I am fine…but exercising faithfully and watching everything I put in my mouth. Please follow up ASAP.

  • Judith West

    After having migraines 3 -4 ties a week, every week, for over 3 years, I suffered a TIA and had to have immmediate vascular surgery (carotid endoarterioectomy). Drs told me it would not alleviate the migraines; however I have not had one since the surgery six weeks ago!
    How lucky I am – such a blessing.

  • Robin

    I used to have flashing auras with my migraines, but ever since my neurologist put me on a baby aspirin regimen (81 mgs, 1x/day) I do not get the aura anymore. She told me years ago that they could lead to stroke risk (although the heart disease mentioned in this article is news to me). I still get weather and hormone related migraines, but the “flashers” (as I used to call them) have disappeared. Anyone who reads this article and my comment should definitely discuss the use of baby aspirin to help control this type of migraine. It has literally worked a miracle on me!

  • gina

    I’ve had these migraines since early middle school. I am now 21 years old and don’t get them as often as before, but when they come, I can hardly even move. I remember I would get flu-like symptoms at times along with the migraines too when I was younger, I would scream and cry from the sharp aching pain because they would sometimes come with no warning. I wish there were enough words to make people understand how painful these migraines can get, but when I try describe the pain I only feel like they might think I’m overreacting and exaggerating about it… *sigh*:(

    • Nikki Meysenburg

      I too have had migraines since early childhood, and I do have the “aura’s” when I get them. They aura is usually a precursor to a full-blown migraine and it leads to not being able to drive, stand-up,eat and can last up to 2-3 days. My son has what are called cluster migraines and his are much more intense than mine. One thing I have found to help is by watching what I eat. I have to stay away from artificial sweetners of any kind, preservatives and additives in foods as well as getting more exercise.

  • http://holisticwellnesshawaii.vpweb.com Linda Hostalek D.O.

    Often structural components, such as birth trauma, car accidents, or domestic assaults may lead to migraine headaches. Hormones, especially progesterone deficiency, are also associated with migraines. A trained cranial osteopath can be extremely helpful in those cases. I too, have had migraines for years, and now I very rarely have them. During medical school, I was introduced to cranial osteopathy, and had several treatments, and could not believe how effective they were. I am grateful to those who helped me, and have been blessed to be taught by those and now help others in the way I was helped. Balance in all areas is crucial, blood vessels, fascia, nutrition, structure, hormones, stress, etc. The heart is linked with all organ systems in some way, as blood flow is essential for good health and lack of pain. I urge all who are suffering to try a cranial osteopath – one who has been trained through the cranial academy (cranialacademy.org) and actually practices osteopathic medicine. You might find, as I did, a world of relief out there. bless

  • Madeleine Poe

    I have been suffering from migraines with aura for nearly 30 years. Sometimes they last as long as two weeks and can be completely disabling. Trips to the ER for IV pain meds, prophylactics used to treat epilepsy, a smorgasbord of migraine meds and nothing helps. A dark quiet room and time, sometimes hot and/or cold compresses, eventually provide relief. I knew about the possibility of strokes. These new findings about heart attacks are, to say the least, sad. But what I found most disturbing was the dearth of information and reporting on the NBC Nightly News. If you blinked or sneezed, you missed a very important story. Women’s health issues (and migraines are not exclusive to women) need more attention and better reporting. Yes, it was sad that an aged TV actor passed away, but for that story to garner more air time than the news about migraines and heart disease is unconscionable.

  • Bob & Barb Hookway

    I used to have migraines years ago without auras. I no longer have migraines but have the auras in both eyes a lot. I have had increased amounts. Used to be 2-3 times a year and now multiple times in a month. I had a heart ablation in March of 2014. They have increased since then. I am 74