Migraine Cause and Health History

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last review date: November 2010

A complete review of a migraine sufferer’s health history is necessary when making a migraine diagnosis. Doctors must understand what other health issues you might be experiencing to see if they might contribute to your migraine symptoms.

A look at your migraines and health history is important because several other health issues possibly contribute to migraines or cause similar symptoms, including:

Blood pressure

Blood pressure’s role in migraines isn’t simple to describe. For years, researchers tied increased blood pressure to a higher risk of migraines. However, more recent studies have shown that people with higher blood pressure actually have fewer migraines and less pain all over, perhaps because the increase in blood pressure can make a person less sensitive to pain. One study in particular, a 2002 study of more than 20,000 adults in Norway found that there were fewer reports of head pain in those with high blood pressure. Another, larger study in Norway in 2008 of more than 50,000 adults found that people with higher systolic blood pressure (that’s the top number) were up to 40 percent less likely to complain of head pain or have migraine attacks than those with healthier blood pressure. A 2003 French study of 1,373 elderly patients found a similar trend - those with migraines had lower blood pressure than those without.


Early studies connected the disorders: asthma and migraine. Several studies have shown that people with migraine had more incidence of asthma. One theory about the link between asthma and migraine is that a similar type of dysfunction occurs in the smooth muscles of the brain and in the airways. A 2002 U.K. study of more than 64,000 people also found a strong link between migraine and asthma. A U.S. study in 1990 found that women with a history of migraines were more likely to give birth to children with asthma than non-migraine sufferers.

Heart disease

People with migraine with aura symptoms and other migraine symptoms that include trouble communicating and muscle weakness have a higher stroke risk. Women are even more at risk and the risk increases if women smoke or use oral contraceptives. These factors lead many to believe there may also be a connection between heart disease and migraine. A study of almost 6,000 people in the Netherlands found that adults who suffered from migraines, and particularly those with suffered from migraine with aura had more heart disease risk factors than those adults without migraines.

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