Migraine Disease Linked to Cardiovascular Disease in Men

by Teri Robert, Lead Expert

Over the last few years, there has been a great deal of discussion regarding Migraine disease and increased risk of stroke. There had not been, however, sufficient study of Migraine and cardiovascular disease (CVD) to either acknowledge or dismiss any connection between Migraine and CVD. Early in 2006, information surfaced that provides compelling evidence of increased risk of cardiovascular disease in women over 45 with Migraine with aura. (See Migraine With Aura Linked To Cardiovascular Disease in Women.)

Study objective

To evaluate the association between Migraine and risks of overall and specific CVD in a large study of middle-aged men.

Study methods

  • A prospective cohort study of 20,084 participating in the Physician’s Health Study
  • The Physician’s Health Study
    • When they entered the study (1981-1984), men were ages 40 to 84 and free of CVD, cancer and other major illness.
    • At the beginning of the study, 6 months later, then annually, participants completed questionnaires to collect demographic and lifestyle information, as well as medical information for the time period.
    • Excluded: 1,987 men with missing Migraine information or who had CVD during the Migraine screening period.
  • Establishing Migraine
    • On the 6-month and on annual questionnaires, participants were asked whether they have experienced a Migraine since the last questionnaire.
    • Since participants were not asked about any lifetime history of Migraine and to make the Migraine ascertainment more comparable to the study in women, men were classified as having Migraine if they indicated Migraine during the first 5 years of the study.
    • Frequent Migraine: if participants reported Migraine 4 or more times during the one-year period between questionnaires.
    • No information was collected about Migraine aura
  • Establishing CVD
    • Myocardial infarction was confirmed if symptoms met WHO criteria and the event was associated with abnormal levels of cardiac enzymes or diagnostic electrocardiograms.
    • Nonfatal stroke was confirmed if the participant had a new focal-neurological deficit of sudden onset and vascular origin that persisted for more than 24 hours.
    • Cardiovascular deaths were confirmed by review of autopsy reports, death certificates, medical records, and information obtained from next of kin or family members.
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