Cardiovascular risk factors and migraine: The GEM population-based study

Ann I. Scher*, G. M. Terwindt, H. S.J. Picavet, W. M.M. Verschuren, M. D. Ferrari, L. J. Launer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

394 Scopus citations


Background: Migraine, particularly with aura, is a risk factor for early-onset ischemic stroke. The underlying mechanisms are unknown, but may in part be due to migraineurs having an increased risk profile for cardiovascular disease. In this study, the authors compare the cardiovascular risk profile of adult migraineurs to that of nonmigraineurs. Methods: Participants (n = 5,755, 48% men, age 20 to 65 years) are from the Genetic Epidemiology of Migraine (GEM) study, a population-based study in the Netherlands. A total of 620 current migraineurs were identified: 31% with aura (MA), 64% without aura (MO), and 5% unclassified. Controls were 5,135 individuals without lifetime migraine. Measured cardiovascular risk factors included blood pressure (BP), serum total and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (TC, HDD, smoking, oral contraceptive use, and the Framingham risk score for myocardial infarction or coronary heart disease (CHD) death. Results: Compared to controls, migraineurs were more likely to smoke (OR = 1.43 [1.1 to 1.8]), less likely to consume alcohol (OR = 0.58 [0.5 to 0.7]), and more likely to report a parental history of early myocardial infarction. Migraineurs with aura were more likely to have an unfavorable cholesterol profile (TC 2 240 mg/dL [OR = 1.43 (0.97 to 2.1)], TC:HDL ratio > 5.0 [OR = 1.64 (1.1 to 2.4)]), have elevated BP (systolic BP > 140 mm Hg or diastolic BP > 90 mm Hg [OR = 1.76 (1.04 to 3.0)]), and report a history of early onset CHD or stroke (OR = 3.96 [1.1 to 14.3]); female migraineurs with aura were more likely to be using oral contraceptives (OR = 2.06 [1.05 to 4.3]). The odds of having an elevated Framingham risk score for CHD were approximately doubled for the migraineurs with aura. Conclusions: Migraineurs, particularly with aura, have a higher cardiovascular risk profile than individuals without migraine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)614-620
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - 22 Feb 2005
Externally publishedYes


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