Migraines And Your Health

Some people who suffer from chronic migraines or migraine symptoms often wonder if a migraine headache can have a lasting effect on overall health. In the midst of the worst and most debilitating migraine symptoms, many wonder if migraines are ever life threatening, or if they potentially signal a significant underlying health problem in need of attention.

Migraines, Migraine Symptoms and the Risk of Death

The risk of death as a direct result of migraine symptoms is very low. According to a study published by the “British Medical Journal” in 2010, a small statistical connection exists between those who suffer from migraines with auras and a slightly increased risk of death from heart disease and stroke. However, this correlation may be related to standard cardiovascular risk factors, like high blood pressure, smoking and high cholesterol. Those who experience migraine symptoms without an aura were not found to be at increased risk.

What a Migraine Headache Suggests About Overall Health

The physiology of a migraine headache is not very well understood, but some studies have shown that migraines may result from cardiovascular shifts taking place in the blood vessels of the brain. Studies are ongoing to determine if treatments used to prevent migraines can also improve cardiovascular health. The reverse possibility—that treatments for cardiovascular problems can also help prevent or ease the pain of migraines—is also under study.

Individuals who experience migraines were shown to have a decreased risk of developing breast cancer, according to “Scientific American” (2008). But again, more research is needed to determine the nature of the link, since the reduction in cancer rates may result from the treatments applied to migraine symptoms rather than the migraines themselves.

Migraines are not clearly and directly associated with other underlying problems, but if you suffer from migraine symptoms, especially a severe migraine headache that lasts longer than 72 hours, see a doctor as soon as possible.


Science Daily. (2010). Migraine sufferers have higher risk of dying from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100824231218.htm

Scientific American. (2008). Do migraines lower breast cancer risk? Retrieved January 18, 2011, from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=migraines-breast-cancer-estrogen

US Department Of Health and Human Services. (2011). Migraine with aura linked to small rise in heart, stroke risks. Retrieved January 18, 2011, from http://www.healthfinder.gov/news/newsstory.aspx?docID=642401