As 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.