- Women who suffer from migraines are much
more likely to have a stroke than those who do not, scientists have claimed.
- Researchers from Imperial College School
of Medicine in London and the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford found young
women with a history of migraines are three-and-a-half times more likely
to have an ischaemic stroke.
- An ischaemic stroke is caused by a lack
of blood to the brain due to constriction or blockage in a blood vessel.
- Dr Limmie Change and colleagues studied
291 women aged between 20 and 44 who had suffered strokes.
- They found that the risk is increased
further if they also smoke, have high blood pressure or use oral contraceptives.
A woman who suffers from migraine, smokes and takes oral contraceptives
is 35 times more likely to have a stroke.
- The researchers, who cautioned that further
research was needed, found that between 20% and 40% of strokes in women
who had a history of migraines seemed to stem directly from a migraine
- Writing in the British Medical Journal,
the researchers say: "The data presented here suggest that women who
have migraine should be advised strongly not to smoke, and that their blood
pressure should be carefully monitored and controlled."
- The researchers also found that a family
history of migraine, regardless of personal migraine history, upped the
risk of not only an ischaemic stroke but also a haemorrhagic stroke, where
a burst blood vessel leads to a lack of blood to the brain.
- Migraines are caused by a rapid widening
and narrowing of blood vessel walls in the brain and head.
- Researcher Neil Poulter, of the cardiovascular
studies unit, Imperial College School of Medicine, said: "Presumably
a vaso-constriction - such as that associated with a migraine - in a blood
vessel that is already partially narrowed for whatever ever reason may
just cause a total blockage and lead to a stroke."
- Professor Poulter said there was nothing
migraine sufferers could do to stop themselves suffering attacks, but they
could reduce their risk of stroke.
- "They have got to look at other
factors in their life that they can do something about," he said.
- "They should stop smoking, eat fruit
and vegetables and ensure that if they have high blood pressure then it
is under control."