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Migraine & Hypertension Represent Increased Stroke Risk

When compared with patients who have hypertension (high blood pressure) alone, patients with both migraine disease and hypertension are more likely to suffer a stroke.

Researchers in Milan, Italy, conducted a survey of nearly 3,000 patients being treated in a general practice setting with a known diagnosis of hypertension or migraine. In patients without other recognized risk factors for stroke, patients with both hypertension and migraine in the 40-49 age range were more likely to experience stroke than patients with hypertension alone (4.8% in comorbidity vs. 0.9% in hypertension group).

In the group of patients with both hypertension and migraine, the onset of their migraine disease occurred much later in life than in the migraine-only group. Researchers found the high blood pressure was harder to control in the group of patients with both conditions.

In past studies there seemed to be a higher stroke risk for patients with migraine with aura than among patients with migraine without aura, but in this study the patients with both conditions were found to be at greater stroke risk regardless of the type of migraine.

The study’s authors recommend doctors carefully watch for the existence of these two conditions in patients already known to have migraine disease. They suggest practitioners begin checking their patients blood pressure at a young age to keep on top of the possibility of increased risk for stroke.

Though the overall risk for stroke is still low even if you live with migraine and hypertension, becoming familiar with the signs of a stroke is a good practice.

Symptoms of Stroke:

– Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg (especially on one side of the body)
– Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
– Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
– Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
– Sudden severe headache with no known cause

If you believe you are having a stroke, please seek medical attention immediately.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Migraine and High BP Raise Risk for Stroke Above Hypertensives, Hypertension and Migraine Comorbidity: Prevalence and Risk of Cardiovascular Events, Know Stroke, Know the Signs, Act in Time: NINDS


  • taralane
    7 years ago

    Hi Diana –
    Thanks for the condensed version of this report by the Italian researchers. I read yesterday, on the Migraine Research Foundation report which I receive via e-mail, the full version and all the summaries of research which MRF or the NIH have funded. Frankly, some of them scared me out of my wits!

    Since I am in, I think as one study said, the fortunate 2%, whose migraines increased with menopause, and I started having auras when I hit 60 – but not the kind that come with no pain, I am sitting here struggling with the realization that I am a prime candidate for a cardiovascular disease, a stroke, or something else equally as horrible, any time now. It is enough to get me up and start an exercise program TODAY, because I used to be very fit before my migraines became really so difficult that I could no longer work and spend a lot of time in bed, or doing the 1 thing a day I can manage in 5-6 hours. Any more and I am sick for 3-4 days.

    What all that information gave me was a little more sense of my own mortality, which I can handle, but I don’t want to have something which will leave me either completely incapacitated (stroke) or broke (heart condition).
    Except for the migraines and a few co-morbid conditions that don’t make me physically ill – I have otherwise enjoyed pretty good health my whole life.

    I feel I have had enough suffering in my life with the almost daily migraines I deal with, and one of those more serious things everyone worries about at my age, has never been on my mind. I guess I was wrong about that too.

    What do we do about getting the right amount of exercise that will keep us fit and strong to keep our blood pressure down and out of the cardiovascular disease area, when exercise is often a cause of a migraine? I don’t even know how to eat anymore. There are so many foods that will bring on either diarrhea or a migraine that my diet is now very, very limited. I cannot eat fruit or veggies, except for bananas and apples, and I have been a vegetarian all my life, now eating chicken and turkey – all I can manage. I am going to research all this, and will post something, but I want to know if there is something out there already without adding a nutritionist to my list of doc’s.

    Also there are studies going on, and I would like to participate in a couple coming up. How does one get into these studies? Write to the author of the article? Any thoughts?

    Thanks for the toned down, more easily read on this information. There was a lot on that report from the MRH. Perhaps too much for one sitting.

  • Diana-Lee author
    7 years ago

    Balancing healthy living and all of our triggers can be very challenging.

    Regarding exercise, I recommend starting out at a snail’s pace and working up very, very slowly. Most people will find they can tolerate a little more and then a little more if they work their way up.

    As for the food issue, chicken and turkey are a great place to start since they are lean proteins. But obviously you want to build on that if you can. I would encourage you to keep experimenting with veggies to see what you might be able to tolerate, especially when combined with antidiarrheal medications, such as Immodium.

    I’m glad the article was helpful!

  • Berteena Wilson
    8 years ago

    I wish I had a little hypochondria instead of knowing I have all these and more too. Everytime a new nurse goes over my history and notices that I’m in my late thirties, they always tell me I’m too young for all of the conditions/disease/surgeries I have had. I feel my life has been stolen as it flashes before my eyes. People don’t want to hear/know the truth about how sick you are. They expect you to be positive and pretend like life is perfect at my age. I feel I have to keep being sick a secret to avoid negative feedback.

  • Diana-Lee author
    7 years ago

    People can be very ignorant and say incredibly insensitive things, even in the medical profession. 🙁

  • Chave D Sladia
    8 years ago

    If you have migraines and have low blood pressure, and migraines and other neurological conditions such as MS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and/or mood/behaviors disorders are in your family’s history you might suffer from CADASIL a genetic neurological disorder.

  • Jacquie Briggs
    8 years ago

    some times I wish I could unread things because I have both conditions plus a few others thrown in too just to make things even more interesting.

  • Jacquie Briggs
    8 years ago

    for me it’s not just the migraines and the high blood pressure but i also have tuberous sclerosis complex and have lost my right kidney and have multiple angiomyolipomas in my remaining kidney and both lobes of my liver and both lungs i was also diagnosed with bi-polar type 2 and fybromaliaga and a few years ago i started to have bad trouble with water retention in my legs and i started menopause early (I’m 42) oh and I have a bum valve in my heart so i wish i could just have a little hypochondria instead of whats really wrong with me!!

  • Karen Finley Fuller
    8 years ago

    ditto Honey!!! then I get to add being a nurse on top… I swear that alone breeds hypochondria at times!!! LOL 🙂

  • jessica
    8 years ago

    was just talking to my friend about this last night. I was telling her since I have had migraines since I was 13..I wondered what the long term effects are. I can’t imagine having migraines for most of my life that there are not long term effects.. Though strokes are a worry and the stats are pretty unnerving..I still wonder, despite multipy clean MRI’s and CT’s if I am not starting to have seizures on top of everything else….I lose feeling in the most random places..I get sight loss..I stumble over words…get dizzy and then some..I have even had my face drop and other not so nice things happen on occasion..My BP is pretty normal..there is a slight change but I am getting older and I am not thin like I use to be…Life is what it is we all have to take the good with the bad..

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