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Retinopathy More Common with History of Headaches

Middle-aged patients, particularly those with migraine, at risk

MONDAY, May 14 (HealthDay News) -- Middle-aged men and women with a history of headaches, particularly migraines, are 30 to 80 percent more likely than other patients to have signs of retinal microvascular disease, including retinopathy, researchers report in the May 15 issue of Neurology.

Kathryn M. Rose, Ph.D., from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and colleagues examined the association between headache and retinal microvascular signs in 10,902 individuals (mean age 60 years), of whom 22 percent had a history of headaches.

The researchers found that after controlling for variables such as age and gender, people with a history of headaches were more likely to have retinopathy (odds ratio, 1.28-1.49 depending on headache type). In subjects without a history of hypertension or diabetes, those with a history of migraine headaches were even more likely to have retinopathy (OR, 1.74-1.79 depending on whether aura was present). A history of headaches was associated with significantly smaller mean arteriolar and venular calibers, according to the study.

"Middle-aged persons with migraine and other headaches were more likely to have retinopathy signs, supporting the hypothesis that neurovascular dysfunction may underlie vascular headaches," Rose and colleagues conclude.

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