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Original Contribution
July 19, 2006

Migraine and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Women

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Divisions of Preventive Medicine (Drs Kurth, Gaziano, Cook, and Buring) and Aging (Drs Kurth, Gaziano, Logroscino, and Buring), Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health (Drs Kurth, Cook, Logroscino, and Buring), Massachusetts Veterans Epidemiology Research and Information Center, Boston VA Healthcare System (Dr Gaziano), and Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention, Harvard Medical School (Dr Buring), Boston, Mass; and Department of Neurology, University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany (Dr Diener).

JAMA. 2006;296(3):283-291. doi:10.1001/jama.296.3.283

Context Migraine with aura has been associated with an adverse cardiovascular risk profile and prothrombotic factors that, along with migraine-specific physiology, may increase the risk of vascular events. Although migraine with aura has been associated with increased risk of ischemic stroke, an association with cardiovascular disease (CVD) and, specifically, coronary events remains unclear.

Objective To evaluate the association between migraine with and without aura and subsequent risk of overall and specific CVD.

Design, Setting, and Participants Prospective cohort study of 27 840 US women aged 45 years or older who were participating in the Women's Health Study, were free of CVD and angina at study entry (1992-1995), and who had information on self-reported migraine and aura status, and lipid measurements. This report is based on follow-up data through March 31, 2004.

Main Outcome Measures The primary outcome measure was the combined end point of major CVD (first instance of nonfatal ischemic stroke, nonfatal myocardial infarction, or death due to ischemic CVD); other measures were first ischemic stroke, myocardial infarction, coronary revascularization, angina, and death due to ischemic CVD.

Results At baseline, 5125 women (18.4%) reported any history of migraine; of the 3610 with active migraine (migraine in the prior year), 1434 (39.7%) indicated aura symptoms. During a mean of 10 years of follow-up, 580 major CVD events occurred. Compared with women with no migraine history, women who reported active migraine with aura had multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios of 2.15 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.58-2.92; P<.001) for major CVD, 1.91 (95% CI, 1.17-3.10; P = .01) for ischemic stroke, 2.08 (95% CI, 1.30-3.31; P = .002) for myocardial infarction, 1.74 (95% CI, 1.23-2.46; P = .002) for coronary revascularization, 1.71 (95% CI, 1.16-2.53; P = .007) for angina, and 2.33 (95% CI, 1.21-4.51; P = .01) for ischemic CVD death. After adjusting for age, there were 18 additional major CVD events attributable to migraine with aura per 10 000 women per year. Women who reported active migraine without aura did not have increased risk of any vascular events or angina.

Conclusions In this large, prospective cohort of women, active migraine with aura was associated with increased risk of major CVD, myocardial infarction, ischemic stroke, and death due to ischemic CVD, as well as with coronary revascularization and angina. Active migraine without aura was not associated with increased risk of any CVD event.