Peripheral vascular dysfunction in migraine: a review

J Headache Pain. 2013 Oct 1;14(1):80. doi: 10.1186/1129-2377-14-80.


Numerous studies have indicated an increased risk of vascular disease among migraineurs. Alterations in endothelial and arterial function, which predispose to atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases, have been suggested as an important link between migraine and vascular disease. However, the available evidence is inconsistent. We aimed to review and summarize the published evidence about the peripheral vascular dysfunction of migraineurs.We systematically searched in BIOSIS, the Cochrane database, Embase, Google scholar, ISI Web of Science, and Medline to identify articles, published up to April 2013, evaluating the endothelial and arterial function of migraineurs.Several lines of evidence for vascular dysfunction were reported in migraineurs. Findings regarding endothelial function are particularly controversial since studies variously indicated the presence of endothelial dysfunction in migraineurs, the absence of any difference in endothelial function between migraineurs and non-migraineurs, and even an enhanced endothelial function in migraineurs. Reports on arterial function are more consistent and suggest that functional properties of large arteries are altered in migraineurs.Peripheral vascular function, particularly arterial function, is a promising non-invasive indicator of the vascular health of subjects with migraine. However, further targeted research is needed to understand whether altered arterial function explains the increased risk of vascular disease among patients with migraine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Migraine Disorders / complications*
  • Migraine Disorders / physiopathology
  • Peripheral Vascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Peripheral Vascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Risk Factors