More Evidence Links Migraine and Stroke Risk

by Teri Robert, Lead Expert

Migraines and increased stroke risk has been a fairly frequent topic of research and articles over the last few years. In 2004, Etminan et. al.3  pulled together data from 14 previous studies, correlating and analyzing the data to offer a more conclusive overall picture than we'd had before.

In a new article in the American Journal of Medicine, a team led by Dr. Saman Nazarian report on the data they compiled and analyzed from 21 previous studies.1


"Observational studies, including recent large cohort studies that were unavailable for prior meta-analysis, have suggested an association between migraine headache and ischemic stroke. We performed an updated meta-analysis to quantitatively summarize the strength of association between migraine and ischemic stroke risk."1

Study methods:

  • Researchers  searched electronic databases, including MEDLINE and EMBASE, for studies conducted through February, 2009, for human studies published in English.
  • They also searched the:
    • National Library of Medicine’s Health Services Research
      Projects in Progress,
    • National Institute of Health’s clinical trials registry,
    • World Health Organization’s International Clinical Trials Registry Platform,
    • Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials,
    • Open System for Information on Grey Literature in Europe,
    • and the New York Academy of Medicine Grey Literature through February, 2009, for unpublished reports.
  • The studies included in this review included 12 of the 14 studies used by Etminan et. al.3 and nine additional studies.
  • Thirty-five studies were considered with 21 meeting the criteria for this study.
  • The 21 studies included 622,318 participants.

Study results:

"We report the largest meta-analysis to date of the association between migraine and stroke. In this meta-analysis of 21 observational studies of the association of migraine headache and ischemic stroke, migraine was independently associated with a 2-fold increased risk of ischemic stroke."

The association of ischemic stroke and migraine with aura was stronger than the association of ischemic stroke and migraine without aura.

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