Migraine sufferers at greater risk of a stroke

Wed Jun 2, 2010 10:24pm EDT
 
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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - People who suffer migraines are about twice as likely as people without the painful headaches to suffer a stroke caused by a blood clot, according to a new research review.

The analysis, which combined the results of 21 previous studies, confirms a connection between migraines and ischemic stroke -- the most common form of stroke, occurring when a clot disrupts blood flow to the brain.

Across the studies, migraine sufferers were about twice as likely to suffer an ischemic stroke as people without migraines, according to findings published in the American Journal of Medicine (here(10)00129-4/abstract)

Experts are not sure why the relationship exists, and it is not yet known whether the migraines themselves directly lead to strokes in some people.

It's likely, however, that a common underlying process contributes to both migraines and stroke risk, said Dr. Saman Nazarian, the senior researcher on the new study and an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

He told Reuters health that for now the bottom line for migraine sufferers is that they should be particularly vigilant about controlling any modifiable risk factors for stroke that they may have.

Some of those risk factors include high blood pressure, smoking and diabetes.

"The main thing I would want (people) to take away from this is that if they get migraines, they should address stroke risk factors," Nazarian said.

"They should not smoke and they should watch their blood pressure and have it treated if it is high."   Continued...