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Migraines with Auras May Increase Risk of Dying from Heart Disease or Stroke

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There I was - sitting in a rather boring meeting, minding my own business (thank you very much) when a bolt of lightening split my skull with such force that I reached up looking for blood (surely if I hurt this badly there must be blood involved, right?). The florescent lights in the room began to shimmer and dance about like a mirage rising from the desert. I managed to make it outside the meeting room before becoming violently ill. I was hit (and I use the word literally) by a migraine, specifically a migraine with aura.

Migraines have to be the mother of all headaches. Not only is the pain debilitating, but migraines are often accompanied by nausea and vomiting as well as light sensitivity. A migraine with aura adds a whole new layer of misery to an already unbearable situation with additional symptoms such as the shimmering and dancing lights, vision loss, stars, zigzag lines in vision, confusion, numbness (especially in the face or in your hands or feet), difficulty speaking, and extreme skin sensitivity. If you’ve never had a migraine, then try to imagine the worst headache you’ve ever had times, oh say, a thousand (just to be on the conservative side) and you might come close to imagining what migraine is like for those who have them. If you’ve ever had a migraine, then you know what I’m talking about and you have my deepest sympathy.

As if migraines aren’t bad enough, they bring with them an increased risk of stroke and heart disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, migraine sufferers are more likely to suffer a stroke than are their non-migraine counterparts. This risk of stroke increases if you have high blood pressure, smoke, or take birth control pills. Now, researchers in Iceland indicate that those who have migraines with aura are at a greater risk not only of stroke but for dying of heart disease as well.

The Reykjavik Study was a long-term, large population study which was led by Larus Gudmundsson from the University of Iceland. Sponsored by the Icelandic Heart Association, the Reykjavik Study began in 1967.

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EmpowHER Guest

"researchers also found that those who had migraines with aura were at a greater risk of dying from any cause. "

This statement does not make sense as it infers that those without migraines with aura do not have a risk of dying from any cause.
This is not true as we will all die.
This statment also infers that migraine with aura increases the risk of dying from all causes such as an accident, childbirth, diabetes, cancer, etc., which is obviously not true.
One should note that having migraines with or without aura does NOT predispose you to heart attack or stroke UNLESS you have risk factors for heart attack and stroke such as hypertension, high cholesteral, smoke, drink alcohol, overweight, diabetes, family history, etc.
A physician will tell you that even if you have a family history of heart attach or stroke, you only inherit the predisposition, not the disease and absent the risk factors it's unlikely you will have heart disease or stroke.

November 11, 2010 - 1:12pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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