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

    January 16, 2013

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.