Women who suffer from migraine with aura may have a higher risk of having a heart attack or blood clot, according to two studies presented this week at the American Academy of Neurology’s Annual Meeting.
One study shows that migraine with aura (which involves visual problems such as flashing lights) is a strong contributor to major cardiovascular problems like heart attack and stroke. The study followed 27, 860 women over 15 years; 1,435 of them had migraine with aura. There were 1,030 cases of heart attack, stroke or death from a cardiovascular event during the study. Examination of the contributing factors revealed that migraine with aura was the second-strongest single contributor after high blood pressure.
The other study tracked the occurrence of blood clots in women with migraine who took hormonal contraceptives. Participants had migraine with and without aura. The study found that women with aura taking all types of contraceptives were more likely to experience blood clot complications (like deep vein thrombosis) than migraine sufferers without aura.
The most important lesson from the new studies is that people with migraines need their physicians to diagnose their condition–not only for the treatment of migraine, but also to know risks for other conditions. Unfortunately, only about half of migraine sufferers get the proper diagnosis. That has to change.