We often hear about the increase in stroke risk but not as often the increase in heart attack risk. I have always worried about heart attack risk more than stroke, even though with stroke risk I realize the symptoms would be very hard to tell with migraine with aura unless they felt different to me in some way.
However, I have had some surprisingly painful chest pains… either from triptans themselves or sometimes it seems with the migraine itself. Some just worrisome and some scary bad. One time the ER said they were angina and my doctor took me off Imitrex injections… all triptans in fact and put me on Toradol pills instead, which then destroyed my digestive system. So that was awesome. My next doctor put me back on triptans, Maxalt and I simply did not protect because triptans work better than anything else, he wasn’t willing to put me on painkillers and I could no longer take anti-inflammatories so no real options there.
So I simply do not take them more than the three days a week recommended to prevent rebounds and I do not take them more than two days in a row… otherwise, yes, chest pains and heart irregularities and breathing problems. But the chest pains are not as bad as they were with Imitrex or even before that actually. Enough to make me lie down and just… wait it out, pay attention to it and see if it gets as bad as it has been.
The first study showed that migraine with aura is a strong contributor to the development of major cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke. The Women’s Health Study involved 27,860 women, 1,435 of whom had migraine with aura. During the 15-year study, there were 1,030 cases of heart attack, stroke or death from a cardiovascular cause. The study examined the relative contribution of various vascular risk factors to these major cardiovascular events.
“After high blood pressure, migraine with aura was the second strongest single contributor to risk of heart attacks and strokes,” said study author Tobias Kurth, MD, ScD, of INSERM, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Bordeaux and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Kurth is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology. “It came ahead of diabetes, current smoking, obesity, and family history of early heart disease.”
Kurth cautioned that while people with migraine with aura have an increased risk, it does not mean that everyone with migraine with aura will have a heart attack or stroke. He said people with migraine with aura can reduce their risk in the same ways others can, such as not smoking, keeping blood pressure low and weight down and exercising.”Migraine with Aura May Lead to Heart Attack, Blood Clots for Women
That is pretty nuts, eh? That after high blood pressure migraine with aura is the second strongest contributor to risk of heart attack and strokes? There is a history of heart disease on my mother’s side I believe so that is one thing to consider for me. Plus I smoke still. My blood pressure, however, is low normal… or so low I’m amazed I’m alive. So that’s one good thing. Weight is a tricky one. Currently, I am in the normal range, but medication changes can bump me easily back into overweight and with hypothyroidism, it is a bitch to lose it, given it is a bitch to even exercise. Smoking would definitely be something to quit… I just have a hard time when I have no pain management. When I can get a handle on the pain to some degree then I’ll have to kick that habit.
Either way, if you have migraine with aura that’s something you cannot change and if you have a family history of heart disease and strokes, also something you cannot change. These things are just facts that make us aware of things we might want to take preventative measures.