Researchers aren't sure why two conditions are connected
WEDNESDAY, Feb. 10 (HealthDay News) -- People with migraines are more likely to have heart attacks, a new study shows, but the exact reason why the two conditions are linked is still unclear.
The incidence of heart attacks in people with migraine is almost double that of people who don't suffer the headaches, according to a report in the Feb. 10 online edition of Neurology by a group including Dr. Richard B. Lipton, a professor of neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.
The study, which compared 6,102 people with migraine and 5,243 without the headaches, found a 4.1 percent incidence of heart attacks in the migraine patients, compared with 1.9 percent in those without the debilitating headaches.
Previous studies have found an association between migraine and cardiovascular problems including heart problems and stroke, Lipton noted. One study, which looked at only women, found an increased incidence of stroke, especially for migraine with the visual disturbances called aura (women are up to four times more likely than men to have migraines). Another study, which looked only at men, found an increased risk of heart disease.
"The strength of this study is that we have a very large number of migraine sufferers, data to distinguish between migraine with and without aura, and longitudinal data on men and women in the same study," Lipton said.
The new study did find a higher incidence of heart attack for migraine with aura -- three times that of the migraine-free group. It also found that people with migraine were more likely to have the classic risk factors for heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular problems: diabetes (12.6 percent versus 9.4 percent), high blood pressure (33.1 percent versus 27.5 percent) and high cholesterol (32.7 percent versus 25.6 percent).
But those risk factor differences
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