Does your migraine put you at a higher risk for heart attack and stroke? A recent study says yes. As a heart attack-survivor and migraine-sufferer, I was surprised to find out -- yes! Read more in my article originally published at MyHealthyHeartInfo.com
A study released recently by the American Academy of Neurology indicates the risk of stroke for women who have occasional migraines (less than one per month) increases by 45 percent and risk of heart attack increases by 64 percent. For those who suffer from weekly migraines, the risk of stroke triples due to “profound changes in the brain which diminish blood flow to the brain," said Dr. Richard Lipton, vice chairman of neurology at Montefiore Headache Center in New York City.
"Someone with migraine should be sure to manage their other risk factors including high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, high cholesterol, and body weight," Lipton said.
Here are some tips to manage your symptoms and limit your risk:
Know the whole picture: When discussing your migraine symptoms and treatment options with your doctor, make sure to ask questions about your heart health as well. Women who have migraines should not smoke, as tobacco use vastly increases risk for heart attack and stroke. Oral or other hormonal contraceptives carry increased cardiovascular risk as well. Discuss the risks with your doctor.
Medications prescribed to treat or prevent migraines may increase your risk of heart attack and stroke as well. If you have a strong family history, are overweight, have high blood pressure or other risk factors, share this information with your doctor and ask how this will affect your treatment.
Know your triggers: Avoiding migraines is the best way to limit risk, however this can be difficult. Keep a “trigger journal” to help identify what brings on your migraine. List all your activities and what you eat and drink each day. When you have a migraine look back to see what may have triggered it. Over time, patterns will develop which should help you determine what type of lifestyle changes will be effective. Common triggers include artificial sweeteners, changes in sleep and eating patterns, hormonal changes, and chemicals found in processed meats.
Know the symptoms: The key to surviving and recovering from a stroke or heart attack is quick action. Know when it is time to call 911. The Stroke Collaborative just released a new tool to help determine when someone needs emergency care called Give Me 5! Asking if someone can walk, talk, reach, see, and feel is a lifesaving strategy. For more information about stroke and heart emergencies check out this article on taking charge in the ER.
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Eliz Greene is a heart attack survivor, author and nationally known speaker on a mission to encourage women to recognize heart disease as their most serious health threat and provide down-to-earth strategies for active and healthy lives. Learn more about Eliz and the Embrace Your Heart Wellness Initiative at www.EmbraceYourHeart.com