Link Between Migraine and Atherosclerosis Is Debunked

But researchers caution that people with migraine may face higher risk of venous thromboembolism

TUESDAY, Sept. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Migraine patients do not have a higher risk of atherosclerosis than other patients, but they appear to have a higher risk of venous thromboembolism, according to research published in the Sept. 16 issue of Neurology.

Between 2000 and 2005, Judith Schwaiger, M.D., of Innsbruck Medical University in Innsbruck, Austria, and colleagues followed 574 subjects, including 75 who had migraine without aura and 36 who had migraine with aura.

The researchers found no significant differences in the prevalence, severity, and five-year progression of carotid and femoral atherosclerosis between subjects without migraine and those with migraine (with or without aura). They also observed that subjects with migraine were less likely to develop atherosclerosis and more likely to have a lower intima-media thickness. In a surprise finding, the investigators found that subjects with migraine had a significantly increased risk of venous thromboembolism (18.9 percent versus 7.6 percent) after adjusting for age and sex.

"This study is the first to compare the burden of atherosclerosis as quantified by high-resolution duplex ultrasound between migraineurs and non-migraineurs in the general community, and provides solid evidence against the view that migraine predisposes to atherosclerosis," the authors conclude. "The higher risk for venous thromboembolism among migraineurs (prothrombotic state) awaits confirmation and elaboration in future research."

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