Older migraine sufferers may be more likely to have subclinical brain infarction (SBI) compared to non-migraine sufferers, according to new findings posted online in the journal Stroke. Previously, migraine with aura has been identified as carrying a slightly elevated stroke risk.

546 study participants who were clinically stroke-free and aged ≥55 from the Northern Manhattan Study (NOMAS) were evaluated for indicators of SBI caused by a blood clot interrupting blood flow to brain tissue. Patients with a history of migraine without aura had a >2-fold greater odds of SBI after adjusting for other stroke risk factors including smoking, mild-to-moderate alcohol use, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. High blood pressure was more common in those with migraines, although the migraine-SBI link was also seen in those with normal blood pressure levels. No associations were seen between white matter hypertensity volume (WMHV) and SBI in migraine sufferers, which the researchers hypothesize could be due to the high burden of other cardiovascular risk factors in this older, racially diverse population.

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The researchers note that although the risk of ischemic stroke in individuals with migraine is small, larger studies are needed to confirm SBI as a biomarker for subclinical cerebrovascular disease in patients with migraines.

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