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Can Migraine Headaches Increase Your Chance of Heart Attack and Stroke?

Posted May 27 2010 12:00am

San Francisco Chiropractor Comments:

Migraine headaches-stroke-heart attacks connection
As a former migraine headache sufferer, I know how hard it can be to find the root cause sometimes. I also know how migraine headaches can effect your physiology and how they can actually be a symptom of something else rather than a cause.

Well, according to an article I just read about research done at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, migraine headache sufferers are 2x as likely to have a heart attack, and also have an increased risk of stroke than people without migraines.

Here is an excerpt from the story entitled How can migraine headaches increase your chances of a stroke? Could you have a hole in your heart? :

"Migraine sufferers should not be alarmed by our findings," said Dr. Lipton. "While we found an increased risk for cardiovascular problems, the percentage of people actually affected remains small. Overall, for example, only 4.1 percent of migraine sufferers had heart attacks. And while the risk of stroke was 60 percent higher for migraine sufferers than for the rest of the population, the percentage of migraine sufferers experiencing strokes was still quite low -- 2 percent." (

PFO and Migraine:

What Is PFO:

PFO stands for patent foramen ovale. A PFO is a hole in the wall (septum) that divides the right and left atrium (chambers) of the heart. We all have a PFO during fetal development, but it usually closes before birth. The right side of the heart receives blood and pumps it to the lungs for oxygenation. The blood then goes through the left side of the heart to be pumped to the brain and other organs.

I recommend you read the entire article.

My Take: According to the research study headache patients should not become alarmed as strokes and heart attacks are rare. And there are many people that will live and die with one of these holes in their heart and never even knew they had one. This research provides more answers that can be used to help us understand migraine headache causes and how to treat them.  After-all, preliminary studies indicate closing the hole (PFO) causes a reduction in the migraine headaches, but more research is needed. 

Dr. Eben Davis is clinic director of Executive Express Chiropractic in San Francisco

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