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Don’t Take Migraine For Granted; Sufferers At Higher Risk Of Stroke After Surgery

Update Date: Jan 13, 2017 08:10 AM EST

Migraine sufferers have higher risk of stroke after surgery, according to a study published in The British Medical Journal. The authors said that the result carries public health importance because the prevalence of migraine in the general population is high.

Researchers from Denmark, Germany and United States analysed the records of almost 125,000 surgical patients at Massachusetts General Hospital and two other campuses between January 2007 and August 2014. The result of their analysis revealed that 771 (0.6 percent) group had a history of migraine. Of the 771 patients, 89 (11.5 percent) suffered stroke.

The risk of stroke is 2.4 for every 1,000 surgeries, but the number almost double to 4.3 for every 1,000 for patients with migraine. Risk is highest for those who have symptoms before the migraine attack, including severe headache, visual disturbance and flashing of lights.

However, those suffering with migraine even without aura have 75 percent more chances of having a stroke after surgery compared to those who are not afflicted with migraine at all. Still, the absolute risk of anyone getting a stroke after surgery is still low, according to the author of the study.

Dr. Matthias Eikermann, an associate professor of anaesthesia at Harvard Medical School in Boston, assures the public that most of migraine sufferers who undergo surgery never have a stroke because the risk is low. Eikermann is also the lead researcher of the study.

While the study did not prove that surgery is cause of stroke, the association of migraine and the medical event is strong. Migraine affects about one in five people. The result of the study should be considered when sufferers need to undergo surgery, and physicians are urged to be aware of this increased risk.

World Health Organization (WHO) reports that about 6.7 million people have died of stroke. More women suffer from migraine compared to men.

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