What Migraines Can Tell You About Your Risk for Stroke

woman-headacheAs a healthy woman, having a stroke isn’t something that I think about often. Though I could definitely be labeled a hypochondriac, stroke doesn’t top the list of what I usually worry about.

But it turns out that I have an elevated risk of having a stroke sometime during my life.

Why? Because I have migraines with aura – an annoying little condition that pops up on me about once or twice a year, usually during a time of great stress.

It almost always occurs when I haven’t been paying particularly good attention to myself (too much caffeine, not enough sleep, way too much stress). It also seems to have to do with a change in the weather.

My migraines start with this “aura” that looks like a squiggly line of lightning/electricity across my vision. I have to stop wherever I am and get someone to drive me home. I take some medicine and go immediately to bed.

This migraine with aura condition puts people at a higher risk of having a stroke and is an unforeseen stroke symptom. On top of that, for women who have migraine with aura AND use estrogen-containing oral contraceptives, the risk is even higher. Smoking can also increase the risk.

You can learn more about stroke with this “Stroke Risk Quiz” and these other stroke resources. Watch the below video for more information about migraines and strokes in women.

About the author

Julie Smith
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Julie is the Director of Media Relations for Baylor Scott & White Health. A native of South Louisiana and an LSU graduate, she loves meeting Baylor patients and helping them to tell their stories.

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What Migraines Can Tell You About Your Risk for Stroke