Migraine and atrial fibrillation: a systematic review

Eur J Neurol. 2022 Mar;29(3):910-920. doi: 10.1111/ene.15198. Epub 2021 Dec 8.


Background and purpose: Patients with migraine are at increased risk of stroke. The aim was to systematically review the current literature on the association between migraine and atrial fibrillation, which is a relevant risk factor for stroke.

Methods: PubMed was searched for 'migraine' AND 'atrial fibrillation' and selected original investigations on the association of migraine and atrial fibrillation for our analysis. Articles without original data, such as guidelines, narrative reviews, editorials and others, were excluded.

Results: In all, 109 publications were found. Twenty-two were included and analysed for this review. The population-based Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study showed a significant association of migraine with visual aura and incident atrial fibrillation (hazard ratio 1.30, 95% confidence interval 1.03-1.62, p = 0.02), but not for migraine without aura, compared to non-headache persons after multivariable adjustment for vascular risk factors. An even larger population-based study in Denmark confirmed this association (odds ratio 1.25, 95% confidence interval 1.16-1.36). Studies investigating patients with ischaemic stroke and migraine are methodologically insufficient and provide contradictory results. Ablation therapy for atrial fibrillation in patients with migraine might reduce migraine attacks, but transient post-ablation new-onset migraine-like headaches in persons without a history of migraine have also been reported.

Conclusion: Population-based studies indicate a significant association of migraine with aura and atrial fibrillation. In practical terms, screening for atrial fibrillation in patients who have a long history of migraine might be reasonable, whereas in patients with stroke or other disorders and migraine extensive screening for atrial fibrillation should be performed as in all patients without migraine.

Keywords: atrial fibrillation; aura; cortical spreading depolarization; cortical spreading depression; migraine; stroke.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Atrial Fibrillation* / complications
  • Atrial Fibrillation* / epidemiology
  • Brain Ischemia* / complications
  • Humans
  • Migraine Disorders* / complications
  • Migraine Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Migraine with Aura*
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke* / complications
  • Stroke* / etiology