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Migraine With Aura Linked to Risk of Ischemic Stroke

Risk found to be particularly high for young women who smoke and use oral contraceptives

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 28 (HealthDay News) -- People who have migraine headache with aura are at increased risk for ischemic stroke, particularly women, according to a meta-analysis of research on the links between migraines and cardiovascular disease published online Oct. 27 in BMJ.

Markus Schurks, M.D., of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues screened 5,746 studies, reviewed 32, and included in their analysis 25 articles on case-control and cohort studies of the associations between migraine headache and stroke, myocardial infarction, and death caused by cardiovascular disease.

The studies documented an association between any form of migraine headache and ischemic stroke (pooled relative risk, 1.73), which was higher for people who had migraine with aura (pooled relative risk, 2.16) than people who had migraine without aura (pooled relative risk, 1.23). Analyzed by gender, the data showed a greater risk for women (pooled relative risk, 2.08) than men (pooled relative risk, 1.37). The risk among women was further increased by age (less than 45years), smoking, and use of oral contraceptives. The association between migraine and myocardial infarction was insignificant (pooled relative risk, 1.12) as was the association between migraine and cardiovascular death (pooled relative risk, 1.03).

"Thus, in particular, young women who have migraine with aura should be strongly advised to stop smoking, and methods of birth control other than oral contraceptives may be considered," the authors write.

The study was supported by Merck. Authors of the study and editorial reported financial relationships with the pharmaceutical industry.

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