Millennials who suffer from migraines ‘more likely to have a stroke’, new study warns

By Staff 7 Min Read

The study has found that adults under the age of 35 are at greater risk from stroke due to non-traditional risk factors such as migraines than from traditional risks like high blood pressure

Millennials who suffer from migraines are more likely to have a stroke, warns a new study.

Researchers found that adults under the age of 35 are at greater risk from stroke due to non-traditional risk factors such as migraines than from traditional risks like high blood pressure. Study lead author Dr Michelle Leppert, of the University of Colorado, said: “We wanted to understand which risk factors were the top contributors to stroke risk among young adults. These findings are significant because most of our attention has been focused on traditional risk factors.

“We should not ignore non-traditional stroke risk factors and only focus on traditional risk factors; both are important to the development of strokes among young people.” The new research, published in the journal Circulation, revealed that typical risk factors like high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, smoking, and obesity, are no longer the only conditions to affect the possibility of strokes.

The team analysed a database of Colorado health insurance claims, matching over 2,600 people who had strokes to more than 7,800 people who didn’t to determine which risk factors may most often lead to strokes. They also found that non-traditional factors like blood clotting disorders, kidney failure, autoimmune diseases or malignancy were significantly associated with the development of strokes in men and women aged 18 to 44 years old.

The association between stroke and non-traditional stroke risk factors was stronger in adults younger than 35 years old. Migraine was the most important non-traditional stroke risk factor among 18 to 34 year-olds, accounting for 20 per cent of strokes in men and nearly 35 per cent in women.

The contribution of traditional stroke risk factors peaked among adults aged 35-44 and were associated with nearly 33 per cent of strokes in men and about 40 per cent in women. Male participants aged 18 to 34, have a 31 per cent chance of stroke risk with the non-traditional factor compared to 43 per cent in women.

The traditional risk factors was 25 per cent in men and over 33 per cent for women. In the 45-55 age group, non-traditional risk factors accounted for more than 19 per cent of strokes in men and nearly 28 per cent in women. High blood pressure was the most important traditional stroke risk factor among 45- to 55-year-olds, accounting for 28 per cent of strokes in men and about 27 per cent in women.

Dr Leppert said: “In fact, the younger they are at the time of stroke, the more likely their stroke is due to a non-traditional risk factor. We need to better understand the underlying mechanisms of these nontraditional risk factors to develop targeted interventions.”

The scientists were surprised to find that non-traditional risk factors were equally important as traditional risk factors in the development of strokes in young men and women. Dr Leppert says that the large contribution that migraine headaches had in the development of strokes was also unexpected.

She added: “There have been many studies demonstrating the association between migraines and strokes, but to our knowledge, this study may be the first to demonstrate just how much stroke risk may be attributable to migraines.” The data was collected from 2012-2019 from the Colorado All Payer Claims Database, which mandates the submission of all commercial insurance, Medicaid and Medicare claims.

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