Time to Add Migraine as a Marker for Later Life CV Risk?
Written by Editor   
Sunday, July 24, 2016 12:00 AM

Women who have migraine headaches have a significantly increased risk of cardiovascular disease, according to new results from a large observational study. Earlier studies have established a strong link between migraine and stroke, which the new study now extends to other types of cardiovascular disease. However, the clinical implications are uncertain since there is no definite mechanism to explain the association.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 115,000 women followed for more than 20 years in the Nurses' Health Study II. More than 17,000 participants reported a migraine diagnosis. Women who had migraines were more likely to have other risk factors for cardiovascular disease. After adjusting for the known risk factors, women with migraine had a significantly elevated risk for developing major cardiovascular disease. The greatest increase in risk was for stroke and for angina/coronary revascularizations. The findings were consistent and robust across multiple analyses. But, as with any observational study, cause and effect could not be demonstrated and that residual confounding factors might offer “a potential alternative explanation.”  However at least one common physician noted that “it is time to add migraine to the list of early life medical conditions that are markers for later life cardiovascular risk.” 

Without better evidence, however, “migraine is probably best thought of as a situation in which the medical urge to ‘do something’ (beyond currently recommended assessments for cardiac risk and advocating a healthy lifestyle) should be resisted.” If a patient has a history of migraine, it might remind the physician of the importance of assessing cardiovascular risk in that patient. Once the risk has been assessed, however, management would be the same: treatment of hypertension and hyperlipidemia, recommending regular exercise.” Physicians “cannot really make any inference of treatment based on the association in the study. "Physicians may want to discuss vascular risk with patients and reduce the risk by addressing known vascular risk factors."

Source:  http://www.medpagetoday.com/Cardiology/CardioBrief/58237