Migraine increases the risk of stroke and heart attack. Here's what to know | Health - Hindustan Times
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Migraine increases the risk of stroke and heart attack. Here's what you should know

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
Aug 19, 2023 12:41 PM IST

Many are generally diagnosed with headaches or migraines in their 20s or 30s and have a low baseline for risk factors associated with stroke and heart attacks.

Migraine is a common neurological condition generally accompanied by intense throbbing headaches, nausea, vomiting and extreme sensitivity to slight light and sound where in most scenarios, these headaches are non-bearable, unpleasant and require medical attention, mainly if they occur almost daily. Most people who suffer from migraine also experience peculiar visual or physical sensations known as an ‘aura’ and usually, the aura happens before the headache, although some people might not experience it.

Migraine increases the risk of stroke and heart attack. Here's what you should know (Image by Tumisu from Pixabay)
Migraine increases the risk of stroke and heart attack. Here's what you should know (Image by Tumisu from Pixabay)

According to health experts, both these types of migraines can lower the quality of life besides increasing the risk of life-threatening conditions like stroke and heart attack. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Ashok Hande, Consultant-Neuro and Spine Surgery at Hiranandani Hospital in Vashi, revealed, “Around the world, stroke accounts for the second most common cause of fatalities and the third most common cause of disability. In India, over 1,85,000 strokes occur yearly, with nearly one stroke every 40 seconds and one death every four minutes. While migraines affect 13% of the population, there is still a lack of awareness regarding the disease, negligence of the warnings given by the brain, inadequate medical assistance, particularly in rural areas and lifestyle changes are significant contributors to it.”

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He highlighted, “Migraine is considered benign as compared to stroke. A brain stroke can be catastrophic and migraine can affect daily activities severely and make a person miserable. A link between this condition was proposed years ago, and various theories have been proposed to explain an association of migraine with brain stroke or vice versa. However, the precise causes remain unclear. The association between migraine and Ischemic Stroke is undoubtedly the strongest, as both are related to supplying blood vessels. A recent prospective cohort study also showed that migraine can increase the risk of Myocardial Infarction, stroke and cardiovascular mortality. Another study stated that people who suffer from migraines are more than two times more likely to suffer from cardiac issues like heart attacks or heart rhythm disorders like Atrial Fibrillation and Atrial Flutter.”

According to Dr Ashok Hande, while more conclusive studies might be needed to link all three conditions, it is always recommended that people who suffer from migraines should consult a neurologist so that their condition can be monitored to minimise the risk of any life-threatening situations. He asserted, “Another aspect to understand is that most people are generally diagnosed with headaches or migraines in their 20s or 30s. This means that these sets of people have a low baseline for risk factors associated with stroke and heart attacks. They also already have a defined set of symptoms and triggers that accompany their headaches, especially if they are frequent. It is infrequent that new symptoms start occurring later, which is why most people have their predictable version of headaches. This means that if a person experiences new symptoms, it should not be dismissed as it can be a signal of something other than a migraine. In such a situation, it is best to seek emergency care as soon as possible, as conditions like heart attack and Stroke can become fatal if medical intervention is not provided on time.”

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