HealthDay News — Women who suffer from migraine headaches may have a slightly increased risk of heart disease or stroke, according to a study published in The BMJ.

Tobias Kurth, MD, director of the Institute of Public Health at Charite-Universitatsmedizin in Berlin, and colleagues analyzed data on 115 541 US women who took part in the Nurses’ Health Study II. At the start of the study, the women were aged 25 to 42, free from cardiovascular disease, and were followed from 1989 to 2011. At the study’s start, 15% of the women had migraines. During 20 years of follow-up, 1329 women had major cardiovascular disease events and 223 died from cardiovascular disease.

The researchers found that, compared with women who did not have migraines, women who had migraines had a 50% greater risk for developing major cardiovascular disease. Specifically, women with migraines had about a 39% higher risk of myocardial infarction, a 62% higher risk of stroke, and a 73% higher risk of angina/coronary revascularization procedures. In addition, migraine was linked with a 37% higher risk for cardiovascular disease mortality. These associations remained after the researchers accounted for other risk factors, such as smoking, hypertension, age, and use of oral contraceptives.

“Physicians should be aware of the association between migraine and cardiovascular disease, and women with migraine should be evaluated for their risk,” Dr Kurth told HealthDay.

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Kurth T, Winter AC, Eliassen AH, et al. Migraine and risk of cardiovascular disease in women: prospective cohort study. BMJ. 2016;353:i2610.