Migraine with aura: which patients are most at risk of stroke?

Neurol Sci. 2015 May;36 Suppl 1:57-60. doi: 10.1007/s10072-015-2132-2.


The complex association between migraine (M) and ischemic stroke (IS) is discussed. Epidemiological studies and meta-analyses show that M with aura (MA) and not M without aura, doubles the risk of IS. The risk is higher for female gender, young age and higher headache attacks frequency. Smoking habit and oral contraceptives, especially if associated, increase stroke risk. The underlying pathogenetic mechanisms are not completely understood, but it is hypothesized that a particular brain susceptibility to cortical spread depression could explain the association between MA and IS. The absolute risk of IS in migraineurs is relatively low and an antithrombotic primary prevention is not indicated, but it is mandatory to investigate and treat associated risk factors for IS and, in young MA women, consider only progestinic oral contraceptives, if needed, and smoking cessation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Migraine with Aura / epidemiology*
  • Migraine with Aura / physiopathology
  • Risk
  • Stroke / epidemiology*
  • Stroke / physiopathology