New Link between Migraine and Stroke

Written by AnaLise on August 5, 2008 – 6:20 pm -

There is more research and newer information regarding migraine headaches and their causes and treatment as of late.  One of the latest studies has found a link between migraine headaches with aura and a particular gene, leading to a higher risk of stroke in many women.

The interesting part of this discovery is that researchers found that the same gene lowers the risk of migraines with aura.  If this sounds confusing, here is how it works. 

A migraine with aura is a migraine that comes on with an “aura” which includes flashing light and other visual disturbances.  This latest study has found that a particular gene MTHFR 677C keeps women from getting migraines with aura, however, if a woman has this gene and goes on to get migraines with aura anyway, her risk of having a stroke is higher than the average woman.

The study, through Harvard School of Medicine, watched 25,000 white women over 12 years, and found that 18% or 4,600 of them had migraines with aura, and of those, over 625 of the women had a cardiovascular issue such as a stroke.  When the researchers went back to see which of the women had the MTHFR 677C gene, they found that 11% of the women carried the gene.

If the gene is found alone, it does not seem to raise the risk of stroke, however in women who have a history of migraine with aura, the risk of stroke or other cardiovascular disease is raised by three times. 

Researchers are still trying to find the exact gene and figure out exactly what it does and whether it is the direct cause or an ancillary cause of stroke or other cardiovascular event.  Meanwhile, researchers recommend that women who have migraines with aura do not smoke and use alternatives to birth control pills. 

The bottom line is that if you are a woman who suffers from migraines with aura, it is important that you remain very careful about your health to avoid having a cardiovascular event or a stroke.


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