Migraine-sparked vision loss may increase stroke risk in women; Migraine

NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 3 Women who experience vision loss as a symptom of migraine have a 70 percent increase in risk of stroke compared to women who don't have migraines, researchers reported today at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2005. A separate study also reported today found that migraines contribute to stroke in young people, independent of the stroke risks presented by alcohol, cigarettes or oral contraceptives.

The first study investigates migraine auras. Migraines are often preceded by aura, a sensory phenomena such as visual or hearing abnormalities. Migraines with visual aura have been associated with ischemic stroke, but researchers say it is not clear whether a particular type of visual disturbance is more closely linked with increased stroke risk.

Using data from The Stroke Prevention in Young Women Study conducted at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, researchers investigated whether migraine accompanied by visual loss, versus migraine accompanied by lines and spots in the visual field, increased the likelihood of ischemic stroke compared to women without visual symptoms.

"Our study found that women who suffer migraines with loss of vision or partial loss of vision were 1.7 times more likely to have stroke compared with women who do not have a history of migraines," said study author Wayne H. Giles, M.D., M.S., associate director for science, in the Division of Adult and Community Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. The study included 963 women, between ages 15 and 49; 542 of them had suffered strokes.

Researchers found that women with migraines without visual symptoms did not have an increased stroke risk. Women who see spots and lines during or just before migraine had a 25 percent increased risk of stroke over women without migraines. But women who experience vision loss during or before migraine had a 70 percent hi

Contact: Bridgette McNeill
American Heart Association

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