As if the headaches weren't enough. Women who experience migraines that are preceded by sensory irregularities face a heightened risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems, a long-term study of middle-aged women shows.
Some people with migraines have sensory anomalies, called auras, which can include zigzag lines or spots of light in the visual field or grayed vision. Auras can also be characterized by tingling in the limbs and physical weakness.
To investigate potential links among migraines, strokes, and heart problems, the scientists beginning in 1992 identified 3,610 female health professionals who had had migraines during the past year. Of these, 40 percent had experienced auras. The women in the study, who were otherwise healthy and over age 45, were participating in a large trial investigating various medical conditions, says study coauthor Tobias Kurth, a neuroepidemiologist at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Bosto