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Migraines' Frequency Influences Heart Attack, Stroke Risk
Date:4/17/2008

But the absolute risk to patients remains very low, expert says

THURSDAY, April 17 (HealthDay News) -- Women who have weekly migraines are at an increased risk for stroke compared to those with few or no migraines, a new study finds.

On the other hand, those with less frequent migraines may have an increased risk of heart attack, the same team of researchers report.

The findings, to be presented Thursday at the American Academy of Neurology annual meeting in Chicago, point to different mechanisms linking migraines to distinct cardiovascular troubles, experts say.

And even though the average migraine sufferer's absolute risk of a heart attack or stroke is still low, the new study should be viewed in the context of other cardiac risk factors, said Dr. Richard Lipton, vice chairman of neurology at Montefiore Headache Center in New York City.

"Someone with migraine should be sure to manage their other risk factors including high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, high cholesterol and body weight," said Lipton. He was not involved in the study, which was conducted by a team from Brigham & Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Previous research (much of it by the same group) has found an increased risk of vascular problems in both men and women who experience migraines, especially those who experience migraine with visual symptoms known as aura.

One recent study found that women who suffer from migraines with aura are at higher risk of stroke, especially if they smoke and take oral contraceptives.

What's been missing, however, is data on how the frequency of migraines might affect cardiovascular risk.

This study involved almost 28,000 female health professionals in the United States aged 45 and older, none of whom had cardiovascular disease when the trial started.

During about 12 years of follow-up, and compared to women with no migr
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