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Migraine 'increases risk of mortality'

By Neha Pathak

Migraines with auras increase overall as well as cardiovascular mortality rates, according to Icelandic researchers.

Researchers evaluated 18,725 migraine patients born between 1907 and 1935 over a 26-year follow-up period, using questionnaires and clinical measures.

Migraine sufferers with visual or sensory auras were at a 21% increased risk of death from all causes compared to patients with no headache, as well as a 27% increased relative risk of death from cardiovascular causes, including a 28% increased relative risk of coronary heart disease and a 40% increased relative risk of stroke. No significant increased risk was observed in migraine sufferers without auras.

Women with auras are also at a 19% higher risk of dying from non-cardiovascular causes compared with women with no headache.

Lead researcher Larus Gudmundsson, a doctoral student in pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Iceland, stressed that the absolute risk is minimal, and concluded: ‘People with migraine, particularly those with migraine with aura, are at modestly increased risk of mortality, independent of classic risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The absolute risk is low, and the focus should be on conventional risk factors.'

BMJ, published online 25 August 2010

Women were at a higher risk of death from non-CV causes

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