If you're a woman who often experiences migraines, you might want to check on your heart health, too. A new study published in The BMJ found that women diagnosed with migraines have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease than those who do not suffer from them.
A team of U.S. and German researchers analyzed data from over 115,00 women ranging between 25 and 42 years old. None of the women had any prior angina or cardiovascular disease, and only around 15 percent of them had been officially diagnosed with migraines. Researchers followed the participants' cardiovascular health from 1989 to 2011.
At the 20-year follow-up researchers found that, of the women with a physician's diagnosis of migraines, there were over a thousand incidents of cardiovascular disease and 223 mortalities.
Compared to the women who were not officially diagnosed with migraines, this showed that migraines could indicate a greater risk for cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke and angina. This result was even more apparent when the same risk remained even as other risk factors were adjusted or eliminated from the study.
According to the researchers, this study shows that migraines should be considered an important indication for risk of cardiovascular disease. However, more research is required to further examine this relationship and whether preventing migraines could change that risk.
Migraines have a multitude of causes, though there isn't much concrete information about them. In women, according to the Mayo Clinic, hormonal changes and fluctuations in estrogen often trigger these headaches during their periods, pregnancy and menopause.
However, the Mayo Clinic also lists foods, drinks and stress as external migraine triggers. While women may not be able to influence how hormones affect their headaches, these controllable factors may help lessen their prevalence.
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