The most serious complication of migraine is possible development of an ischaemic stroke:
- migraine is associated with increased risk of ischaemic (but not haemorrhagic) stroke (1)
- a meta-analysis of 14 studies (2) showed
- the relative risk of ischaemic stroke was 2.16 (95% confidence interval 1.89 to 2.48)
- increase in risk was consistent in people who had migraine with aura (relative risk 2.27, 1.61 to 3.19) and migraine without aura (relative risk 1.83, 1.06 to 3.15)
- users of oral contraceptives had an approximately eightfold increase in the risk of ischaemic stroke compared with women not taking oral contraceptives
- the authors concluded that migraine may be a risk factor in developing stroke
Other possible complications include:
- migraine is associated with an increased risk of depression, manic depression, anxiety disorder, and panic disorder
- status migrainosus - a debilitating migraine that lasts for more than 72 hours
- migrainous infarction - a cerebral infarction occuring during the course of a typical attack of migraine with aura. The aura lasts longer than 60 minutes, and neuroimaging shows ischaemic infarction (3)
- Chang, CL et al. Migraine and stoke in young women: case-control study. BMJ 1999; 318:13-18.
- Etminan M et al. Risk of ischaemic stroke in people with migraine: systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. BMJ. 2005 330(7482):63
- Headache Classification Subcomittee of the International Headache Society. The international classification of headache disorders. 2nd edition. Cephalagia 2004; 24(Suppl 1):1-150.
Last reviewed 07/2021