Atherosclerosis, Migraine and Blood Clots

Nancy Harris Bonk Health Guide
  • Recently, a study was conducted to see if there was any correlation between Migraine and atherosclerosis (harding of plaque in artieries) and increased risk of venous thromboembolism (blood clots), aka VTE.


    People who suffer Migraine with aura (MWA) are at an increased risk for stroke (see Migraine and Stroke Risk) because they have been shown to have increased cardiovascular disease risk factors. For five years, 574 participants ranging in age from 55-94, took part in this small study. Clinicians used imaging techniques of the femoral and carotid arteries, laboratory exams, and participant medical history to see if there was any occurance, sequence and/or levels of atherosclerosis in MWA patients, Migraine without aura (MWOA) patients, and non-Migraineurs.

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    Their findings include:

    • People who suffer from MWA and/or MWOA don't seem to have any more significant atherosclerosis than people who not suffer from Migraine disease.
    • There seemed to be less atherosclerosis in Migraineurs than non-Migraineurs.
    • Heart disease risk factors seemed to be less related to Migraine than previously thought.
    • Researchers found almost 19% of Migraineurs had a greater risk of VTE than non-Migraineurs, 7.6%. (VTE is a blood clot within a blood vessel that cuts off the supply of blood in it and essentially stops the blood from flowing on to a major organ.This can be fatal if not caught soon enough).

    While this information is concerning for Migraineurs and their families, the authors do note that more reseach is needed to secure evidence, incidence and information on this topic. 


    Teri Robert will have a more comprehensive article in the next week or so.






    J. Schwaiger, MD, S. Kiechl, MD, H. Stockner, MD, M. Knoflach, MD, P. Werner, MD, G. Rungger, MD, A. Gasperi, MD and J. Willeit, MD. "Burden of atherosclerosis and risk of venous thromboembolism in patients with migraine." Neurology® 2008;71:937-943

Published On: September 20, 2008