Migraine and risk of stroke in older adults: Northern Manhattan Study

Neurology. 2015 Aug 25;85(8):715-21. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000001854. Epub 2015 Jul 22.


Objective: To examine the association between migraine and stroke/vascular outcomes in a racially/ethnically diverse, older cohort.

Methods: Participants from the Northern Manhattan Study, a population-based cohort study of stroke incidence, were assessed for migraine symptoms using a self-report questionnaire based on criteria from the International Classification of Headache Disorders, second edition. We estimated the association between migraine and combined vascular events including stroke and stroke only over a mean follow-up of 11 years, using Cox models adjusted for sociodemographic and vascular risk factors.

Results: Of 1,292 participants (mean age 68 ± 9 years) with migraine data followed prospectively for vascular events, 262 patients (20%) had migraine and 75 (6%) had migraine with aura. No association was found between migraine (with or without aura) and risk of either stroke or combined cardiovascular events. There was an interaction between migraine and current smoking (p = 0.02 in relation to stroke and p = 0.03 for combined vascular events), such that those with migraine and smoking were at an increased risk. The hazard ratio of stroke for migraine among current smokers was 3.17 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.13-8.85) and among current nonsmokers was 0.77 (95% CI 0.44-1.35). In relation to combined vascular events, the hazard ratio for migraine vs no migraine among current smokers was 1.83 (95% CI 0.89-3.75) and among current nonsmokers was 0.63 (95% CI 0.43-0.94).

Conclusion: In our racially/ethnically diverse population-based cohort, migraine was associated with an increased risk of stroke among active smokers but not among nonsmokers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Migraine with Aura / epidemiology
  • New York
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Stroke / epidemiology*