Migraines and the Link to Other Health Conditions

Research hasn’t shown that migraines are the cause of any other medical conditions. But they are linked to a number of ailments.

The link may be stronger if you have aura -- symptoms that come before your migraine. They can include flashes of light, blind spots, or tingling in your hands or face.

What conditions have ties to migraines? Are you more likely to have some medical problems if you get those intense headaches?

Stroke

There’s little evidence that a migraine will trigger a stroke, or that both things will hit at the same time. Still, the chance of a stroke is higher in some people who have migraines, such as:

  • Those who have aura
  • Women
  • People under 45

After 50, your odds of having a stroke from a migraine fall a great deal.

Heart Disease

Men with migraines are more likely to have a heart attack and heart disease. Women with migraines also have a higher chance of heart disease, especially if they have aura.

How often your migraines come doesn't appear to change your chances of having these conditions.

High Blood Pressure

Studies have yet to find a solid link between high blood pressure and migraines. There is evidence that hypertension may make you have more of those types of headaches.

Seizures

If you get migraines, you’re at least twice as likely to have these. There may be a genetic link between the two. Researchers believe seizures may have the same genetic cause as migraines with aura. More study is needed.

Hearing Problems

Migraines make you more likely to have sudden hearing loss. That's an unexplained, rapid loss of hearing that happens over a few days. It’s extremely rare. However, folks who get those severe headaches get sudden hearing loss twice as often as people who don’t get migraines.

Fibromyalgia

This syndrome causes chronic pain, fatigue, and other symptoms. Migraines are common in people with fibromyalgia. Still, there’s no evidence that having migraines makes you more likely to get it.

Depression and Anxiety

Migraines are common in people who have anxiety. If you have both, you're also more likely to have depression. Some research suggests that aura makes anxiety and depression more likely. But more study is needed.

Continued

PTSD

If you have migraines, you may be more likely to have posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). One study found the likelihood of having PTSD is 5 times higher if you have migraines..

Pre-Term Birth

Some small studies suggest that women with migraines who get pregnant are slightly more likely to have problems like low birth weight, pre-term birth, and preeclampsia. Scientists continue to study these issues.

More generally, symptoms can worsen with pregnancy and may require a different treatment approach, which is why doctors suggest anyone with migraine talk to a headache specialist before they get pregnant.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on November 10, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

American Headache Society: “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) & Migraine,” “Migraine with Aura Shown to be an Important Risk Factor for all Strokes in Women.”

Anxiety and Depression Association of America: “Headaches.”

George R. Nissan, DO, FAHS, neurologist and clinical research medical director, North Texas Institute of Neurology And Headache, Texas Headache Center.

The Epilepsy Foundation: “Migraine & Epilepsy.”

Epilepsy Research UK: “The Link Between Epilepsy And Migraine.”

The Migraine Trust: “Stroke and migraine.”

“Migraine with and without Aura: Association with Depression and Anxiety Disorder in a Population-Based Study. The HUNT Study.”

Montefiore Medical Center: “Pregnant Women with Severe Migraine May Be At Increased Risk for Labor and Delivery Complications.”

NIH Research Matters: “Migraines Tied to Greater Heart Attack Risk in Men.”

Acta Neurologica Scandanavica: “Hypertension in headache patients? A clinical study.”

Cephalalgia: “Migraine is a risk factor for sudden sensorineural hearing loss: a nationwide population-based study,” "Migraine with and without Aura: Association with Depression and Anxiety Disorder in a Population-Based Study. The HUNT Study.”

Headache: “Frequency of Migraine Headaches in Patients With Fibromyalgia.”

The Journal of Headache and Pain: “Migraine and fibromyalgia.”

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Health: “Sudden Deafness.”

Stachler, R. Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, March 2012.

 

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