Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Women's Health

Font Size

Some Migraines Linked to Heart Attack, Blood Clots

WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Jan. 15, 2013 -- Women who have migraine with aura may have a higher risk of heart attacks, and they may face a higher risk of dangerous blood clots if they use certain hormonal contraceptives.

Those are the findings from two newly published studies to be presented in March at the 65th annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in San Diego.

Migraine with aura refers to migraine headaches that are preceded by visual or other sensory symptoms such as flashing lights, blind spots, smell distortion, numbness, or tingling of the hands and face.

About 1 in 4 people with migraines have this type of migraine.

Migraine With Aura Linked to Heart Attack

In the first study, having migraine with aura, but not regular migraines, was a risk factor for heart attacks among middle-aged and older women.

The analysis included data on close to 28,000 women enrolled in the ongoing Women’s Health Study.

During 15 years of follow-up, about 1,400 women who had migraine with aura were identified, and there were 1,030 heart attacks, strokes, or deaths from cardiovascular causes.

After having high blood pressure, having migraine with aura was found to be the second strongest contributor to heart attack and stroke risk, according to researcher Tobias Kurth, MD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and the French National Institute of Health.

Migraine with aura was found in the study to be a bigger risk factor for these cardiovascular conditions than having a family history of early heart disease or having diabetes or being obese or a smoker.

“We have known that migraine with aura is associated with cardiovascular risk,” neurologist and migraine specialist Noah Rosen, MD, says. “What is striking about this study is that it shows just how big this risk is.”

Rosen directs the Headache Center at the Cushing Neuroscience Institute, of the North Shore-LIJ Health System in Manhasset, N.Y.

Migraines Raised Blood Clot Risk

In the second study, women with migraines who used combined hormonal contraceptives had a higher risk for dangerous deep vein blood clots, and the risk was highest in women with migraine with aura. Combined hormonal contraceptives contain both estrogen and progestin.

Today on WebMD

hands on abdomen
Test your knowledge.
womans hand on abdomen
Are you ready for baby?
birth control pills
Learn about your options.
Is it menopause or something else?
woman in bathtub
bp app on smartwatch and phone
estrogen gene

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Blood pressure check
hot water bottle on stomach
Attractive young woman standing in front of mirror