Older Smokers Who Experience Migraines May Have an Increased Risk of Stroke

New research suggests older people who experience migraines may have an increased risk of stroke, but only if they are smokers. The study is published in the online issue of Neurologyå¨, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. ‰ÛÏOur findings may provide more evidence as to why quitting smoking is important for people who experience migraine,‰Û said study author Teshamae Monteith, MD, of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Miami and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. ‰ÛÏWhile this investigation of migraine and vascular events in older people found that only smokers with migraine have an increased risk of stroke, earlier studies have shown that women younger than 45 who have migraine with aura are also at an increased risk of stroke, whether or not they smoke.‰Û An aura is a perceptual disturbance experienced by some with migraine or seizures before either the headache or seizure begins. It often manifests as the perception of a strange light, an unpleasant smell or confusing thoughts or experiences. For the study, 1,292 people from the Northern Manhattan Study with an average age of 68 who reported migraine were followed for an average of 11 years to see who developed heart attacks or stroke. Of those, 187 had migraine without aura and 75 had migraine with aura. During the study, a total of 294 strokes, heart attacks and deaths occurred. The collaborative study of investigators from the University of Miami and Columbia University was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.