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.

Contact:

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
n.poulter@ic.ac.uk
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BMJ

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