Atherosclerosis, Migraine and Blood Clots

Patient Expert

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.

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