Migraines, Heart Attack, and Blood Clots: New Studies
The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) is giving us a sneak peek at what's coming up in their annual meeting next month, and new information about Migraine with aura, heart attack, and blood clots is on the agenda.
Two studies on this topic will be presented at the AAN annual meeting in March...
The first study is based on the 15-year-long Women's Health Study, which involved 27,860 women, 1,435 of whom had Migraine with aura. It showed that Migraine with aura is a strong contributor to the development of major cardiovascular events such as stroke and heart attack. During the 15-year study period, there were 1,030 cases of heart attack, stroke, or death from a cardiovascular cause.
Study author Tobias Kurth, MD, ScD, of INSERM, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Bordeaux and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology commented:
"After high blood pressure, migraine with aura was the second strongest single contributor to risk of heart attacks and strokes. It came ahead of diabetes, current smoking, obesity, and family history of early heart disease."
The second study investigated women with Migraines who take hormonal contraceptives and the occurrence of blood clots. of 145,304 women who used hormonal contraceptives, 2,691 had Migraine with aura, and 3,437 had Migraine without aura. This study showed:
- Women with Migraine with aura were more likely to have experienced blood clot complications such as deep vein thrombosis with all types of contraceptives than women with Migraine without aura.
- 7.6 percent of women with Migraine with aura who used a newer combined hormonal contraceptive had deep vein thrombosis compared to 6.3 percent of women with migraine without aura, but the timing of the two events is not clear.
- The occurrence of blood clot complications was also higher in women with Migraine who took contraceptives than women taking the contraceptives who did not have Migraine.
Study author Shivang Joshi, MD, MPH, RPh, of Brigham and Women’s Falkner Hospital in Boston commented:
"Women who have migraine with aura should be sure to include this information in their medical history and talk to their doctors about the possible higher risks of newer contraceptives, given their condition."
What does this mean to women with Migraine?
Kurth emphasized what we've discussed in the past about these risks, saying that even though people with Migraine with aura have an increased risk, that doesn't mean that everyone with Migraine with aura will have a heart attack or stroke. Those of us with Migraine with aura can reduce our risks by the same methods that people without Migraine can - keeping blood pressure low, keeping weight down, exercise, and other ways.
For those of us with Migraine with aura, the main message from the first study needs to be not to panic, but to sit down with our doctors and discuss methods for reducing our risks.
The second study shows great merit in discussing alternate methods of birth control with our doctors.
For all women with Migraine with aura - Don't panic. Don't react; get proactive. We can help ourselves immeasurably by discussing cardiovascular risk factors and birth control methods with our physicians. We aren't helpless. There are ways we can improve our health and decrease our risks.
American Academy of Neurology Press Release. "Migraine with Aura May Lead to Heart Attack, Blood Clots for Women." News Wise. January 2, 2013.
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