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Migraine with Aura May Increase Women's Stroke Risk

Risk is especially high in female migraine patients who smoke and use oral contraceptives

THURSDAY, Aug. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Women of child-bearing age who have migraine headaches with aura may be at increased risk of ischemic stroke, according to study findings published online Aug. 9 in Stroke.

Steven Kittner, M.D., of the VA Maryland Health Care System in Baltimore, and colleagues studied 386 women aged 15 to 49 who had a first ischemic stroke and 614 matched, stroke-free controls. The investigators classified the subjects into three categories: no migraine; probable migraine without visual aura; and probable migraine with visual aura.

Compared to women with no migraine, the researchers found that women with probable migraine with visual aura had a 1.5-fold increased risk of ischemic stroke and that those who developed probable migraine with aura during the previous year had a 6.9-fold increased risk. Risks were highest among women without other stroke risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes or myocardial infarction. Among women with probable migraine with visual aura, those who smoked and used oral contraceptives had a sevenfold increased risk of ischemic stroke compared to non-smokers and non-users of oral contraceptives, the report indicates.

"The association of smoking, oral contraceptive use, and probable migraine with visual aura with ischemic stroke indicates a high-risk population for which appropriate management strategies are warranted," the authors conclude.

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