Migraines and Stroke Risk in Men

A new study shows chronic headache is a predictor of stroke in men. Interestingly, the study did not find a connection between headaches and stroke risk in women.

There have been many studies linking migraines and the risk of stroke. Most studies link the risk of stroke and migraines among premenopausal women. Doctors from the National Public Health Institute in Helsinki, Finland, conducted a study to determine the connection between migraines and stroke risk.

The study included 35,056 Finnish men and women between ages 25 and 64. The men and women were part of a cardiovascular risk survey that was conducted in 1972, 1977, 1982 and 1987. The participants were asked about headaches, smoking, diabetes, blood pressure, weight, height, cholesterol level, and oral contraceptive use. During the study, 2,167 of the participants suffered a stroke.

Researchers say women in the study reported having headaches twice as often as men. When investigators compared who had headaches and a stroke, they found there was an association with men, but not with women in the study. The association was stronger in the first year of follow-up and decreased as years passed among men. With the women, there was an association between headache and stroke risk but it was not statistically significant.

Authors of the study conclude chronic headache is an independent predictor of stroke among men. Since the association was stronger during a short follow-up, researchers say migraines could be a marker of the process that leads to an acute stroke.

SOURCE: Archives of Internal Medicine, 2003;163:1058-1062

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