Suffering with migraines could be a sign of underlying heart problems, a 19-year investigation involving more than half a million people has suggested.
Cardiovascular problems including heart attacks, stroke, blood clots and irregular heart rates are all linked to migraine, according to the research published in the British Medical Journal.
The researchers found that people who suffer from migraines were more likely to have a heart attack than those with no major headache symptoms - 25 per 1,000 compared with 17 per 1,000.
45 in 1,000 migraine sufferers also experienced a common form of stroke, 20 more than those who don’t get migraines.
And the number of strokes related to haemorrhages was higher in the migraine-suffering cohort (11 compared with six), while 13 compared with 11 suffered peripheral artery disease.
Danish and American researchers collected data from patients between 1995 and 2013. Of the people assessed, over 51,000 had been diagnosed with migraines and more than 510,000 hadn’t.
Researchers found that the average age someone was diagnosed with a migraine was 35 and 71 per cent were women.
“In this nationwide cohort study, migraine was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease,” researchers said.
“This suggests that migraine should be considered a potent and persistent risk factor for most cardiovascular diseases in both men and women.”
But as the study was observational, no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect.
Migraines are more severe than normal headaches. They regularly involve nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and noise, low energy and an intense, throbbing headache.
For some people they last just a few hours but for others they can last up to three days.
Each year more than 8.5 million people in the UK are thought to experience a migraine, more than the number affected by asthma, diabetes and epilepsy combined.
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