Migraines increase stroke risk during pregnancy

March 10, 2009

Women who suffer migraines are at an increased risk of stroke during pregnancy as well as other vascular conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and blood clots, concludes a study published on bmj.com today.

Migraine headache occurs in up to 26% of women of childbearing age and around one third of women aged between 35 and 39. Although it is very common in this age group, little is known about the prevalence of migraine during pregnancy.

So in the largest study of its kind, researchers in the United States set out to test the association between migraine and vascular diseases during pregnancy.

Using a national database of over 18 million hospital discharge records, they identified 33,956 pregnancy related discharges with a diagnosis of migraine from 2000 to 2003.

Older women (40 years of age or more) were 2.4 times more likely to have a diagnosis of migraines than women under 20 years of age, and white women were more likely to have a diagnosis of migraines than any other race or ethnicity.

Migraines during pregnancy were linked to a 15-fold increased risk of stroke. Migraines also tripled the risk of blood clots in the veins and doubled the risk of heart disease. Vascular risk factors were also strongly associated with migraines. These included diabetes, high blood pressure and cigarette smoking.

Even when pre-eclampsia (the most influential factor in relation to migraine) was removed from the analysis, there was little change in the results, suggesting that these are independent associations.

The relation between migraine and stroke was the strongest, and this is consistent with a previous analysis in the same sample of women from 2000-1 which found that migraine was associated with a 17-fold increased risk of pregnancy related stroke. However, stroke in pregnancy is very rare (around four cases per 100,000 births), so this relative increase is not as alarming as it might seem, and these results will not apply to every woman with migraine during pregnancy. Nevertheless, for pregnant women admitted to hospital with active migraines, doctors should recognise and help to reduce cardiovascular risk factors and should treat complications of pregnancy such as pre-eclampsia.

The authors suggest that the most logical explanation for these findings lies in the interaction between migraines and the normal physiological changes during pregnancy (such as increased blood volume and heart rate) which put extra stress on the vascular system.

But regardless of the mechanism, active migraine during pregnancy could be viewed as a potential marker of vascular diseases, especially stroke, they say.

Although cause and effect still need to be established, the results of this study lay the groundwork for future studies related to migraine and pregnancy, they conclude.
-end-


BMJ

Related Heart Disease Articles from Brightsurf:

Cellular pathway of genetic heart disease similar to neurodegenerative disease
Research on a genetic heart disease has uncovered a new and unexpected mechanism for heart failure.

Mechanism linking gum disease to heart disease, other inflammatory conditions discovered
The link between periodontal (gum) disease and other inflammatory conditions such as heart disease and diabetes has long been established, but the mechanism behind that association has, until now, remained a mystery.

New 'atlas' of human heart cells first step toward precision treatments for heart disease
Scientists have for the first time documented all of the different cell types and genes expressed in the healthy human heart, in research published in the journal Nature.

With a heavy heart: How men and women develop heart disease differently
A new study by researchers from McGill University has uncovered that minerals causing aortic heart valve blockage in men and women are different, a discovery that could change how heart disease is diagnosed and treated.

Heart-healthy diets are naturally low in dietary cholesterol and can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke
Eating a heart-healthy dietary pattern rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, vegetable oils and nuts, which is also limits salt, red and processed meats, refined-carbohydrates and added sugars, is relatively low in dietary cholesterol and supports healthy levels of artery-clogging LDL cholesterol.

Pacemakers can improve heart function in patients with chemotherapy-induced heart disease
Research has shown that treating chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy with commercially available cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) delivered through a surgically implanted defibrillator or pacemaker can significantly improve patient outcomes.

Arsenic in drinking water may change heart structure raising risk of heart disease
Drinking water that is contaminated with arsenic may lead to thickening of the heart's main pumping chamber in young adults, according to a new study by researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

New health calculator can help predict heart disease risk, estimate heart age
A new online health calculator can help people determine their risk of heart disease, as well as their heart age, accounting for sociodemographic factors such as ethnicity, sense of belonging and education, as well as health status and lifestyle behaviors.

Wide variation in rate of death between VA hospitals for patients with heart disease, heart failure
Death rates for veterans with ischemic heart disease and chronic heart failure varied widely across the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system from 2010 to 2014, which could suggest differences in the quality of cardiovascular health care provided by VA medical centers.

Heart failure: The Alzheimer's disease of the heart?
Similar to how protein clumps build up in the brain in people with some neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, protein clumps appear to accumulate in the diseased hearts of mice and people with heart failure, according to a team led by Johns Hopkins University researchers.

Read More: Heart Disease News and Heart Disease Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.