Migraine Subtype Linked to Increased Risk of Incident Atrial Fibrillation

Risk for AF up for migraine with aura vs. no headache, migraine without visual aura, after adjustment.
Risk for AF up for migraine with aura vs. no headache, migraine without visual aura, after adjustment.

HealthDay News — Migraine with aura is associated with an elevated risk for incident atrial fibrillation (AF), according to a study published online November 14 in Neurology.

Souvik Sen, MD, MPH, from the University of South Carolina in Columbia, and colleagues used data from participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study who were interviewed for migraine history in 1993 to 1995 and followed through 2013 for incident AF. The relation between migraine and its subtypes with incident AF was assessed compared to controls without headaches. Data were included for 11,939 participants without prior AF or stroke.

The researchers found that 426 participants reported migraines with visual aura, 1090 reported migraine without visual aura, 1,018 reported nonmigraine headache, and 9405 reported no headache. Incident AF was noted in 15% of 1516 patients with migraine and 17% of 9405 participants without headache during a 20-year follow-up period. Migraine with visual aura was associated with an increased AF risk versus no headache and vs migraine without visual aura after adjustment for multiple confounders (hazard ratios, 1.3 and 1.39, respectively). 

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"This finding has important clinical implications and may help us better understand the AF mediation of the migraine-stroke link," the authors write. "A randomized clinical trial may help ascertain whether patients with migraine with visual aura may benefit from AF detection and subsequent anticoagulation or antiplatelet therapy as a primary stroke prevention strategy."

One author disclosed financial ties to Tian Medical.

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