Young Women Suffering Migraine Are At Greater Risk Of Stroke

January 01, 1999

(Migraine increases the risk of ischaemic but not haemorrhagic stroke in women of childbearing age)

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In this week's BMJ researchers from Imperial College School of Medicine and the Radcliffe Infirmary warn that young women who have a history of migraine are three and a half times more at risk of ischaemic stroke (stroke caused by a deficiency of blood to the brain due to constriction of or blockage in a blood vessel). Dr Limmie Chang and colleagues report that these women increase their risk further if they also smoke, have high blood pressure or use oral contraceptives. However, a change in the type or frequency of migraine when a woman takes oral contraceptives, does not predict a subsequent stroke.

In their study of 291 women aged 20 - 44 years who had suffered from stroke the authors found that between 20 - 40 per cent of strokes in women who had a history of migraine seemed to develop directly from a migraine attack. They also found that a family history of migraine, irrespective of personal migraine history, increased the risk of both ischaemic and haemorrhagic stroke (where a deficiency of blood to the brain is caused by a burst blood vessel).

Chang et al conclude that further research into the link between family history of migraine, independent of personal experience needs further investigation.


Professor Neil Poulter, Cardiovascular Studies Unit, Department of Clinical Pharmacology, Imperial College School of Medicine, London t: +44 171 594 3445/6
h: +44 181 580 1611
f: +44 171 594 3411


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