This site is intended for health professionals only

Women with migraines face higher CVD risk, say researchers

Women who suffer from migraine should be evaluated for cardiovascular disease because they are at increased risk of stroke, heart attack and death, say researchers.

Over a 20-year period, women who reported having a migraine had a 50% increased risk of cardiovascular disease – including stroke, myocardial infarction and fatal CVD – compared to women without migraine.

The team, who looked at over 100,000 female nurses aged 25-42, also found that these women were 37% more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than women who did not report a migraine.

When cardiovascular events were analysed separately, women who suffered from migraine were 39% and 62% more likely to suffer a myocardial infarction and stroke, respectively, compared to women who did not report migraine.

The study, published in the BMJ, concludes that the findings show a need to be aware of cardiovascular events in this subset of patients, stating that ‘women with migraine should be evaluated for their vascular risk’.

Writing in the paper, the team state: ‘Our data support consideration of a history of migraine as a marker for increased risk of any cardiovascular disease event.’

The results follow claims made by Exeter GP Dr David Kernick, who last year said that GPs should consider offering statins at QRISK2 scores below 10% in people who have migraine with aura.

Writing in an editorial in the British Journal of General Practice at the time, Dr Kernick said that GPs should explain to women who suffer migraine with aura that their 10-year of CVD risk is actually 2.5 times as high as the QRISK2 tool would predict.

NICE currently recommend interventions for CVD – including statins – in people who have a 10% higher risk of CVD in the next 10 years based on QRISK2. The researchers behind the current study added that investigations for the use of statins to reduce the burden of migraine and cardiovascular risk are ‘urgently warranted’.



Visit Pulse Reference for details on 140 symptoms, including easily searchable symptoms and categories, offering you a free platform to check symptoms and receive potential diagnoses during consultations.