Aura migraines may increase your risk of heart disease

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Aura migraines may increase your risk of heart disease
Aura migraines may increase your risk of heart disease

A new study published in the journal of Neurology Genetics suggests that genes may not be the cause of increased risk for heart disease.

Now there are studies showing a link between migraine headaches, especially the ones with aura and heart disease.

Aura migraines affect 36 percent of all migraine sufferers and include symptoms such as visual disturbances like flashing lights and squiggly lines.

“Surprisingly, when we looked for shared gene variants that might help explain part of the link between migraine and heart disease, we found no shared gene variations between migraine with aura and heart disease,” study author Aarno Palotie, MD, of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard has said. “This is surprising because the evidence is stronger that people with migraine with aura have an increased risk of heart disease than people with migraine without aura.”

Heart disease and migraine minus aura did have some genetic variations in common but the researchers found that those shared genes served to protect against heart disease.

“In other words, people with migraine without aura seem to have a lower load of genetic factors increasing the risk of heart disease,” Anne Ducros, MD, PhD, of the University of Montpellier in Montpellier, France, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study has said. “We now need to understand why people with migraine who are born with a protective or neutral genetic risk for heart disease end up with an increased risk for heart problems.”

The migraine study examined 19,981 people with migraine and 56,667 people who did not have migraine. The heart disease study involved 21,076 people with heart disease and 63,014 people who did not have heart disease.

The researchers used four methods to analyze the results to look for shared genetic variants that overlap between the two diseases.

Ducros said the other genetic factors not captured by these studies could play a role in the link between migraine and heart disease. Also, non-genetic factors could play a role. “For example, migraine has been associated with obesity, avoidance of exercise, smoking and depression, all of which increase the risk of heart disease,” she said.

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