Migraine and risk of cardiovascular disease in women: prospective cohort study

Objective To evaluate the association between migraine and incident cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular mortality in women.

Design Prospective cohort study among Nurses’ Health Study II participants, with follow-up from 1989 and through June 2011.

Setting Cohort of female nurses in United States.

Participants 115 541 women aged 25-42 years at baseline and free of angina and cardiovascular disease. Cumulative follow-up rates were more than 90%.

Main outcome measures The primary outcome of the study was major cardiovascular disease, a combined endpoint of myocardial infarction, stroke, or fatal cardiovascular disease. Secondary outcome measures included individual endpoints of myocardial infarction, stroke, angina/coronary revascularization procedures, and cardiovascular mortality.

Results 17 531 (15.2%) women reported a physician’s diagnosis of migraine. Over 20 years of follow-up, 1329 major cardiovascular disease events occurred and 223 women died from cardiovascular disease. After adjustment for potential confounding factors, migraine was associated with an increased risk for major cardiovascular disease (hazard ratio 1.50, 95% confidence interval 1.33 to 1.69), myocardial infarction (1.39, 1.18 to 1.64), stroke (1.62, 1.37 to 1.92), and angina/coronary revascularization procedures (1.73, 1.29 to 2.32), compared with women without migraine. Furthermore, migraine was associated with a significantly increased risk for cardiovascular disease mortality (hazard ratio 1.37, 1.02 to 1.83). Associations were similar across subgroups of women, including by age (<50/≥50), smoking status (current/past/never), hypertension (yes/no), postmenopausal hormone therapy (current/not current), and oral contraceptive use (current/not current).

Conclusions Results of this large, prospective cohort study in women with more than 20 years of follow-up indicate a consistent link between migraine and cardiovascular disease events, including cardiovascular mortality. Women with migraine should be evaluated for their vascular risk. Future targeted research is warranted to identify preventive strategies to reduce the risk of future cardiovascular disease among patients with migraine.

BMJ 2016;353:i2610

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