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Genetic Factor Studied in Susceptibility to Migraine

Specific gene polymorphism increases risk of cardiovascular disease in some migraineurs

THURSDAY, July 31 (HealthDay News) -- Carriers of the MTHFR 677C>T genotype who have migraines with aura are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, according to research published online July 30 in Neurology.

Markus Schurks, M.D., and colleagues at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, conducted a study of 25,001 white women in the United States. The women self-reported migraine and migraine aura status, medical records were reviewed to ascertain history of cardiovascular disease and data on the women's MTHFR 677C>T polymorphism was available.

While 4,577 women (18.3 percent) reported a history of migraine at baseline, 3,226 women reported active migraine, of which 39.5 percent reported migraine with aura. There were 625 cardiovascular disease events over a mean 11.9 years of follow-up, and carriers of the TT genotype had a slightly lower risk of migraine with aura, the report indicates. The TT genotype was not associated with higher risk of cardiovascular disease, the researchers found. However, coexistence of the TT genotype and migraine with aura increased the risk of cardiovascular disease, notably a fourfold increase in the risk of ischemic stroke, they report.

"Given the limited knowledge about the biologic pathways involved between migraine with aura and ischemic vascular events, genetic testing of migraineurs with aura seems premature," the authors write. "However, practitioners should focus on reducing cardiovascular risk factors and particularly advise young women with migraine with aura not to smoke and to re-evaluate oral contraceptive use."

The study received support from Roche Molecular Systems and Schurks received a grant from Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. Several study authors report financial relationships with the pharmaceutical industry.

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