Abuse May Raise Risk of Heart Attack, Stroke in Migraine Sufferers

WEDNESDAY, June 23 (HealthDay News) -- Adults who suffer migraines and were victims of childhood abuse or neglect face an increased risk for cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease, a new study suggests.

The multi-center, cross-sectional study included more than 1,300 migraine patients who completed surveys about their health status and childhood history. A team of researchers from 11 neurology centers in the United States and Canada found a link between risk of stroke, transient ischemic attack (mini-stroke), heart attack and the total number of forms of abuse a person suffered as a child (physical, emotional or sexual abuse, or physical or emotional neglect).

The study was to be presented Wednesday at the American Headache Society's annual meeting in Los Angeles.

"It is clear from this work that early adverse experiences influence a migraine sufferer's cardiovascular health in adulthood," study leader Dr. Gretchen E. Tietjen, of the University of Toledo College of Medicine in Ohio, said in a news release from the headache society.

"Other work has shown a link between childhood maltreatment and migraine, and now we know that early abuse puts these adults at a greater risk of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease," she added.

"Dr. Tietjen and her teams are pioneers in understanding the relationship between negative childhood experiences and migraine," Dr. David Dodick, president of the headache society, said in the news release. "Now we need to drill even deeper to understand the relationship between migraine, aura status, childhood maltreatment and [cardiovascular] disease risk."

A possible limitation to the study is that the physician-diagnosed diseases were self-reported.

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: American Headache Society, June 23, 2010, news release.