Older people who experience migraines may have an increased risk of stroke. However, this risk reportedly appears evident if the older people are smokers, according to a news release from the American Academy of Neurology.

The study is published in the July 22 online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“Our findings may provide more evidence as to why quitting smoking is important for people who experience migraine,” said study author Teshamae Monteith, MD, of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Miami and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, in the release.

“While this investigation of migraine and vascular events in older people found that only smokers with migraine have an increased risk of stroke, earlier studies have shown that women younger than 45 who have migraine with aura are also at an increased risk of stroke, whether or not they smoke,” she continues in the release.

The release explains that for the study, 1,292 people from the Northern Manhattan Study with an average age of 68 who reported migraine were followed for an average of 11 years to see who developed heart attacks or stroke. Of those, 187 had migraine without aura and 75 had migraine with aura. During the study, a total of 294 strokes, heart attacks, and deaths occurred.

The study did not find an association between migraine with or without aura and the risk of either stroke or heart attacks. However, among smokers, migraine was associated with a thee-fold increased risk of stroke, whereas among nonsmokers, migraine was not associated with a stroke risk.

“Statistically, we could not rule out the possibility that the relationship between migraine and stroke in smokers was due to chance. However, we believe the association is consistent with other studies,” Monteith states in the release.

[Source(s): American Academy of Neurology, Newswise]