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HeadWay, Issue #161 -- Migraine and Heart Disease
January 22, 2018

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In this issue:

Migraine and Heart Disease

Say what?! Ischemic Heart Disease

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Migraine and Heart Disease

It's been a long time since we've talked about the link between migraine and heart disease here at HeadWay, and we have a lot of new subscribers. So let's take a look.

Heart or cardiovascular disease is a blanket term that usually covers conditions such as stroke, heart attach, and abnormal heart rhythms. (Here's a useful summary - What is Cardiovascular Disease?

Blood vessel changes during migraine made it a prime suspect for a link to heart disease. However, today we know that migraine pain is much more complex.

Still, study after study has linked migraine to heart disease. Last year, Headache and Migraine News reported on two relevant studies. One showed that women with ischemic heart disease and migraine were more likely to have a cardiovascular event such as stroke or heart failure than those without migraine. Another study showed that patients who had a stroke between ages 15 and 50 were twice as likely to have migraine as well.

You can read more about these studies here. But these are only a sampling of many studies. This one indicated that those with migraine with aura may have double the risk of stroke. This one found a genetic link between stroke and "common" migraine.

So what does the average migraine sufferer need to know? (Not that any of us are "average"!)

First, it's important to realize that even if migraine leads to a significant heart disease risk, that risk is probably pretty small on its own. In other words, if you're not at high risk for other reasons (unhealthy eating, lack of exercise, smoking, diabetes, etc), your risk will be small. In short, this is no reason to panic.

However, if you do have migraine (any type, but especially if you experience aura), you should be sure to avoid any risk factors you can. Here's a quick list to get you started - How Can I Reduce my Risk of Developing Heart Disease and Having a Heart Attack?

Sometimes doctors seem overly cautious when it comes to the risk of heart disease in migraine patients. For example, there are often mixed messages when it comes to using triptans (common migraine abortives). This article from the New York Headache Clinic points out to evidence that most of us really don't need to worry about triptan use when it comes to heart disease.

If triptans help decrease migraine symptoms, it's probably far better for your health to take the triptan.

For those who already have significant heart disease, there are other options for migraine treatment. We also look forward to CGRP medications which are currently under development for migraine.

Some migraine treatments even may help fight heart disease. One key preventative is magnesium, well known as a heart disease fighter, and a migraine fighter.

The well-known link between migraine and heart disease reminds us again that migraine is serious business. It should not cause us to panic, but it should spur us on to a healthier lifestyle.

Say what?! Ischemic Heart Disease

Ischemic (or ischaemic) heart disease, also known as coronary artery disease, is frequently listed as the "most common cause of death" in western countries. The coronary arteries are responsible for supplying blood to the heart. Partial or complete blockage of these arteries is usually cause by a build-up of fatty material on the artery walls ("hardening of the arteries"). Depending on the arteries, these blockages can lead to chest pain, heart attack, or stroke.

Thanks for reading!  Remember, if you have feedback or ideas for future issues, visit the HeadWay MailRoom.  Your password is nomoache.
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