Migraines at the end of pregnancy and soon after the delivery increase the risk of strokes and other vascular complications (cerebro-vascular disease, or CVD). Dr. Bushnell and her colleagues presented these findings at the last annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology. They looked at almost 17 million pregnancies and identified almost 34,000 women who had migraines. There was an increase in migraines with increased maternal age. Women who had migraines around the time of delivery were 19 times more likely to have a stroke, five times more likely to have a heart attack, three times more likely to have a pulmonary embolus, more than twice the risk of deep venous thrombosis, nearly four times he risk of thrombophilia, twice the risk of heart disease and more than twice the risk of preeclampsia/gestational hypertension.
About two thirds of women stop having migraines during their pregnancies, but if headaches are present at the end of pregnancy close observation is warranted. It is possible that magnesium supplementation as well as regular exercise, proper diet and other life style changes may help prevent these serious complications. Long-term risk for strokes and heart attacks is higher in women who keep additional weight gains after pregnancy.