Migraines with Aura Linked to Heart Disease in Women

First Posted: Jan 16, 2013 03:06 PM EST

Migraines are never pleasant, but a new study has found that they have even more adverse side effects. Researchers found that women who experience migraines that include auras have an increased likelihood of developing heart disease.

Auras during migraines are not uncommon and are usually seen as flashes of light or other changes in vision, and occur when blood vessels in the brain constrict, reducing blood flow to a certain area.

During the 15-year study, researchers followed 27,860 women who were 45 or older and looked at the contribution of various risk factors for cardiovascular events. They found that migraines with an aura were the second strongest single contributor to heart disease risk after high blood pressure.

The findings, which were presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 65th Annual Meeting in San Diego, seem to agree with a growing body of evidence that link migraines in general to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Researchers caution that not all women who have migraines will have a heart attack, though. Yet this study does seem to warn women who experience migraines with auras to take measures- such as keeping a low blood pressure and maintaining a healthy body weight- to avoid complications. 

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