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Women who suffer from migraines at higher risk of a stroke


(NaturalNews) As if suffering from excruciating migraines on a regular basis wasn't bad enough, it is now emerging that women who suffer from migraines are at a significantly higher risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack later in life than those who do not experience these debilitating headaches.

This was the finding of a study known as the U.S. Nurses' Health Study out of the Harvard Medical School that spanned 20 years and looked at a total of 115,000 women. Those women who suffered from migraines were a shocking 50 percent more likely to end up developing major heart problems.

At the start of the study, the women were between the ages of 25 and 42, and did not have any cardiovascular issues. However, by the end of the study, 678 women had suffered heart attacks and 651 had experienced strokes, with 223 women dying from heart problems.

A 62 percent higher stroke risk

The women who were diagnosed with migraines when the study started had a remarkable 50 percent higher chance of going through a major cardiovascular event, with a 62 percent higher risk of having a stroke, a 39 percent higher risk of having a heart attack and a 37 percent higher risk of cardiovascular death.

The findings have led researchers to call for migraines to be considered risk markers for cardiovascular disease, although they emphasize that more research is needed into the possible causes, and whether or not migraine prevention treatments can cut these risks.

While women who suffer from migraines are also more likely to be overweight and have high cholesterol and elevated blood pressure, the scientists think that migraines might stem from the biological problems that lead to what are known as endovascular problems, or those that have an effect on the interior of blood vessels.

The scientists said that women do not need to be overly concerned, as the higher risk is small at the individual patient level. They maintain, however, that the issue is very important on the population level, given the prevalence of migraines.

However, this is not to say that a migraine is one of the symptoms of a stroke, nor should people worry that they have a higher risk of having a stroke while in the midst of a migraine. In fact, there is not much evidence that shows strokes are more likely to occur during migraine attacks, according to the The Migraine Trust.

They also point out that having a higher risk of a stroke does not mean that a person is likely to die from one. Even those who do go on to have a stroke have a 25 percent chance of recovering from it.

Lifestyle changes can help

Nevertheless, those who suffer from migraines are advised to make some lifestyle changes that can reduce their other stroke risk factors. For example, a recent study showed that even moderate amounts of exercise can reduce a woman's risk of a stroke by as much as 20 percent. This could entail brisk walking, jogging on a treadmill or playing tennis a few times a week, and it can be particularly beneficial for postmenopausal women. In addition, exercising helps with weight loss, and obesity is another risk factor for stroke.

Dietary changes can also help slash your stroke risk. A healthy and sensible diet that is heavy in organic vegetables and fruits is ideal. The Mediterranean diet has been shown to help cut stroke risk. Green tea and folic acid can further reduce your risk, while processed foods should be avoided at all costs.

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