Migraine and Hot Flashes in Middle-Aged Women: Impact on Heart Issues

Middle-aged women who experience migraine or hot flashes may not necessarily have an increased risk of heart issues — unless they deal with both these problems for years — two new studies suggest.

Migraine and Hot Flashes in Middle-Aged Women

One of the studies examined data collected from more than 1,900 women starting when most of them were in their twenties, and found that the combination of early adulthood migraine attacks and persistent hot flashes or night sweats during menopause was associated with a 51 percent higher risk of heart attack and a 70 percent greater stroke risk. But only about 7 percent of women had both a history of migraine and persistent hot flashes, according to study results published in the journal Menopause.

“Women with migraines only or hot flashes that weren’t prolonged and severe were not at particularly increased risk,” says the lead study author, Catherine Kim, MD, MPH, an associate professor of medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, and epidemiology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

“We found that only women with severe prolonged hot flashes preceding or beginning at around age 40, as well as migraine, had greater cardiovascular risk,” Dr. Kim says.

In the second study, researchers focused on which factors early in adulthood might have the biggest impact on the risk of persistent hot flashes and night sweats during menopause. Women with migraine were 69 percent more likely to experience persistent menopause symptoms later in life, according to this study, also published in Menopause.

What Are Vasomotor Symptoms of Menopause?

Hot flashes and night sweats are what’s known as vasomotor symptoms of menopause, meaning that they develop in part as a result of changes in the blood vessels. Migraine is also associated with shifts in the way that blood vessels expand and contract.

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