Link between Migraines and Cardiovascular Disease

Published Monday, December 17th, 2018 at 09:59 am

Studies show there is a 50% increased risk in the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD) among men and women who suffer from migraines. Women are also more likely than men to suffer cardiovascular disease mortality, which is the number one killer of Irish women according to the Irish Heart Foundation. 
A US Study of over 115,000 women showed that 15.2% of the women had previously been diagnosed with migraine. Of these women, 1,329 had major cardiovascular events and 233 died from CVD.  The study shows that women who suffer from migraines should be evaluated for their cardiovascular risk. However, more research is needed to identify preventative measures to reduce the risk of CVD among migraine patients. 
Within the three subgroups of migraines, migraines with aura is more commonly associated with a link to CVD.  This type of migraine is where the person suffers visual disturbances prior to the migraine, which can include flashing lights or blind spots. 
A study in Denmark involving 50,000 participants also reported that migraines are a strong risk factor associated with cardiovascular disease. After a 19 year follow up, the study showed that people with migraines had a 1.5-fold increased risk of heart attack and two-fold increased risk of stroke compared with people who do not suffer from migraine.
While more research is needed to determine the causal link between migraine and cardiovascular disease, you can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and frequency of migraines by:
  • Eating a heart healthy diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Quit smoking
  • Develop a healthy sleeping pattern 
  • Practice mindfulness and relaxation strategies for stress relief.
If you experience migraines and are concerned about your heart, discuss this with your GP who can evaluate your cardiovascular risk. 
Mater Private offers Ireland’s only private 24/7 service for patients experiencing urgent cardiac symptoms. If you have any symptoms or are worried about your heart you can call the Urgent Cardiac Care Team in the Mater Private – 1800 24 79 99. A Cardiac Nurse will take your call, discuss your symptoms with you and put an action plan in place.