Migraine sufferers may be more at risk of developing deadly blood clots, according to new research from Austria.
Researchers at the Innsbruck Medical University say the condition known as thromboembolism or venous thrombosis happens when blood clots form in the veins which restricts circulation and leads to pain and swelling.
Should a clot become dislodged, it can travel through the vein to the heart or lungs and prove to be fatal.
The Austrian team carried out a survey of 574 people in Italy that were aged 55 and over to find out if a history of migraine headaches were linked to the condition.
Arteries in the neck and thigh were scanned with ultrasound to check for hardening of the arteries (known as atherosclerosis). This condition is a major factor to the risk of a stroke.
Of those participants in the study, 111 people suffered migraines and 19% had one or more instances of venous thrombosis compared to 8% without migraines who had the condition. Migraine sufferers were no more likely to suffer atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) than those people who don't suffer migraines.
Researchers said it was unclear why migraines and venous thrombosis are linked but suggest migraine sufferers blood may be more prone to clotting.
This study is the first of its kind to use high-resolution ultrasound and while results need to confirmed there is strong evidence that hardening of the arteries is not a driving link. Lead author Dr.Stefan Kiechl says the association between migraines and blood clots is a "new and exciting link".
In the last decade, research shows an increased risk of strokes among migraine sufferers particularly those who experience migraine with aura. These headaches have been linked to an increased risk of a genetic disorder know as V Leiden mutation which is associated with blood clots.