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Health Capsules
June 2007
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Migraines Tied to Heart Attack Risk

Men who suffer from migraine headaches may be at greater risk for heart attack and other types of cardiovascular disease, according to a new study funded by NIH.  The findings parallel last year’s report that women with a history of migraines also face a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

More than 28 million Americans suffer from intense migraine headaches, often described as a pulsing or throbbing in one area of the head.  Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.  Migraines affect about 18% of women and 6% of men.

Researchers studied more than 20,000 men for about 16 years.  None had a history of cardiovascular disease or other major illnesses when they first enrolled in the study.  About 1,500 of the men suffered from migraines.

Over time, the men with migraine had a 24% greater risk of developing major cardiovascular disease compared with men who did not have migraine.  The men with migraine also had a 42% increased risk for heart attack.

The relationship between migraine and heart health is complex and unclear.  Migraines may simply be a sign of an underlying cardiovascular problem.  In any event, because of the apparent link to heart disease, migraine sufferers might be wise to take steps to reduce traditional cardiovascular risk factors, like high blood pressure, obesity, smoking and high cholesterol.



Definitions iconDefinitions

The system of heart and vessels that circulates blood throughout the body.

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  Heart Health for Women

Learn how to protect your heart health by reading the newly updated booklet The Healthy Heart Handbook for Women.  This easy-to-use guide is packed with the latest information on heart disease, the #1 killer of women.

Read practical advice on reducing the major heart disease risk factors:  high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking and being overweight.  You’ll find tips on following a nutritious eating plan, creating a physical activity plan, working in partnership with your doctor and getting the whole family involved in heart-healthy living.  Quizzes, charts and the latest health statistics provide information you’ll need to estimate your risk and control and prevent heart-related problems.

The full-color booklet is available for $4 or can be viewed online without charge.  Go to or call 301-592-8573.

Wise Choices iconWise Choices
Warning Signs of Heart Attack

For many women and men, the first symptom of heart disease is a heart attack. Recognizing the warning signs and getting help quickly can save your life.

  • Heart attacks don’t always begin with sudden, crushing pain; many start slowly as mild pain or discomfort.
  • Most involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes.
  • You may feel discomfort in other areas of the upper body, including one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • You may feel short of breath.
  • Other symptoms include nausea, light-headedness and breaking out in a cold sweat.

Links iconFeatured Web Site en Español

A new Spanish language Web site provides Hispanic/Latino communities with accurate and up-to-date cancer information. Visitors can learn about different types of cancer, treatments, detection and prevention as well as read about the experiences of Latino cancer survivors.

From NIH’s National Cancer Institute.

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