Migraine Age of Onset and Association With Ischemic Stroke in Late Life: 20 Years Follow-Up in ARIC

Headache. 2019 Apr;59(4):556-566. doi: 10.1111/head.13468. Epub 2019 Jan 21.


Background and purpose: To evaluate the association between cumulative exposure to migraine and incidence of ischemic stroke in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study.

Methods: In this ongoing, prospective longitudinal community-based cohort, participants were interviewed to ascertain migraine history at the third visit (1993-1995), followed for ischemic stroke incidence over 20 years. We performed a post hoc analysis to evaluate the association between the age of migraine onset and ischemic stroke.

Results: We identified 447 migraineurs with aura (MA) and 1128 migraineurs without aura (MO) among 11,592 black and white participants. There was an association between the age of MA onset ≥50 years old (average duration = 4.75 years) and ischemic stroke when compared to no headache group (multivariable adjusted HR = 2.17, 95% CI [1.39-3.39], P < .001). MA onset <50 years old (average duration = 28.17 years) was not associated with stroke (multivariable adjusted HR = 1.31, 95% CI [0.86-2.02], P = .212). These results were consistent with our logistic regression model. MO was not associated with increased stroke regardless of the age of onset. The absolute risk for stroke in migraine with aura is 37/447 (8.27%) and migraine without aura is 48/1128 (4.25%).

Conclusion: As compared to the no headache participants, increased stroke risk in late life was observed in participants with late onset of MA. In this cohort, longer cumulative exposure to migraine with visual aura, as would be expected with early onset of migraine, was not associated with increased risk of ischemic stroke in late life. This study underscores the importance of the age of onset of MA in assessing stroke risk in older migraineurs.

Keywords: ischemic stroke; migraine onset; migraine with aura.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Brain Ischemia / epidemiology*
  • Brain Ischemia / etiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine with Aura / complications
  • Migraine with Aura / epidemiology*
  • Migraine without Aura / complications
  • Migraine without Aura / epidemiology*
  • Stroke / epidemiology*
  • Stroke / etiology
  • United States / epidemiology