Migraines and Risk of Stroke Linked

by Jodee on March 3, 2009

If you suffer from migraines, you already know that they are a very painful condition. About 10 percent of Americans (35 million people) get them. More than just garden-variety headaches, migraines can cause severe pain on one portion of the sufferer’s head, as well as nausea. The person may also be very sensitive to the presence of light and sound.

If you are one of the unfortunate few who experience migraine with aura, you have a double or triple chance of having a stroke. Be alert for these symptoms before the migraine pain starts:

  • Feeling hot or cold
  • Forgetfulness
  • Slurred speech

The “aura” refers to ghost lights that appear across the person’s field of vision. This symptom is present in about one-third of migraine sufferers. These unfortunate people also tend to get more painful headaches.

Eating certain foods may trigger a migraine. It may be helpful to keep track of your diet and when migraines occur.


Some triggering foods for these headaches are red wine, chocolate, and olives.

When someone with more than one risk factor for stroke also gets migraines, their risk of stroke increases exponentially. For example, if you smoke, use birth control pills, and are overweight in addition to getting migraines, you are at a much higher risk than someone who doesn’t have all of these risk factors. A study conducted in 2007 found that women who fit this profile were 10 times more likely to have a serious stroke or silent stroke.

Instead of treating the symptoms associated with migraines, doctors are starting to take a more preventive approach to this condition. Like high blood pressure, it is something that they are taking steps to prevent. Medications can be used to prevent these painful headaches. Some high blood pressure medications and antidepressants can be used for this purpose.

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