Migraine with aura is associated with an increased incidence of stroke and cardiovascular disease, but the biological mechanisms are poorly understood. This study examined the incidence of metabolic syndrome and its relationship to migraine with and without aura and to nonmigraine headache. In the population-based the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT), 19,895 individuals were followed for the development of metabolic syndrome, with a median follow-up time of 11.3 years. Headache diagnoses were based on a validated headache questionnaire, and metabolic syndrome was based on a modified version of the National Cholesterol Education Program's Adult Treatment Panel (ATP) III criteria, using objective anthropometric measurements and blood biochemistry. Using the Poisson regression model, migraine with aura was associated with an increased risk for developing metabolic syndrome. The effect was modified by smoking, with an adjusted incident risk ratio (IRR) among smokers of 2.10 (95% CI 1.53-2.89) and among nonsmokers of 1.39 (95% CI 1.03-1.86), when compared to headache-free controls. A moderate risk increase was seen for migraine without aura (IRR 1.26, 95% CI 1.12-1.42) and nonmigraine headache (IRR 1.22, 95% CI 1.13-1.32), not modified by smoking. The results suggest that traditional risk factors may be one of the mechanisms through which migraine with aura is linked to an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. A heightened vigilance concerning cardiovascular risk factors in this patient group may be warranted.
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