A new study has linked migraines with increased risk of cardiovascular problems, including more than double the risk of stroke. This is not the first study to make the connection–it’s one of the things that makes migraines so scary. So what should you do with the results?

a woman assisting a recent stroke victim with walking

Double the Risk of Strokes

For this study, researchers followed more than 900 women from 1996 to 1999, charting their risk of heart disease. In raw terms, the risk of heart problems was about the same for women with and without migraines (18% vs. 17%). The average age of the subjects was 58, and about 24% had migraines.

But when researchers looked at the risk factors of the women who were developing the heart problems, they found out that, all in all, women with migraines were 86% more likely to experience heart problems and they’re 133% more likely to have a stroke.

How Significant Are These Results?

We have to take results like this with a grain of salt (but not too many–cardiovascular risk, remember?). First, the results don’t stand out as being particularly dangerous. The increased risk didn’t stand out much in raw rates, and only showed up after statistical analysis, which increases the likelihood that it’s an artifact of the study.

And that brings up the second point–this study hasn’t been thoroughly reviewed yet. It was only presented at a conference, which means it’s a work in progress. Most importantly, this means that the statistical methods used in the article haven’t been evaluated by experts to determine whether they are valid or whether they are exaggerating or creating the effect.

Until this research goes through that more rigorous evaluation, we should consider the results provisional.

How to Address Heart Concerns if You Have Migraines

However, as we’ve noted, this isn’t the first study to link migraines with heart risks. Even though these results may be provisional, it’s something you should take into account if you have migraines.

Make sure you talk to your doctor about migraines and heart risk. Ask your doctor about your personal risk level and what you might be able to do to lower your risks. Learn the symptoms of heart attack, stroke, and other heart conditions. You should also talk to your doctor about sleep apnea, which is commonly comorbid with TMJ and migraine, and can significantly increase your risk of heart problems.

There is no evidence that migraines cause stroke, but there may be common factors related to both conditions. There’s also no evidence that treating migraines will reduce your risk of stroke or heart attack.

Of course, treating migraines is its own reward. To learn more about effective migraine treatment in the Detroit area, please call (248) 480-0085 today for an appointment with a TMJ dentist at the Michigan Center for TMJ & Sleep Wellness.