Migraines are the second biggest risk factor for women suffering a heart attack or stroke
- Severe migraines with visual disturbances, known as aura, are the second biggest risk factor
- Only high blood pressure was a bigger factor
- Findings come from 15 year study of 27,860 women
Women who suffer from severe migraines accompanied by visual disturbances may be at an increased risk of heart attacks and stroke.
Scientists have said only high blood pressure was a bigger indicator of a stroke or heart attack than migraines with aura, as the condition is known when accompanied by vision problems including flashing lights.
The landmark 15-year study followed 27,860 women, of who 1,435 had migraine with aura.
Over the years there were 1,030 cases of heart attack, stroke or death from a cardiovascular ailment, according to the report from the American Academy of Neurology.
Study author Dr Tobias Kurth said: 'After high blood pressure, migraine with aura was the second strongest single contributor to risk of heart attacks and strokes.
'It came ahead of diabetes, current smoking, obesity, and family history of early heart disease.'
He said the risk for migraine-plagued women with aura was three times greater than for those with migraines that lacked this disturbance.
A second study released by the same academy said women who had migraines with aura and took hormonal contraceptives were more likely to have blood clots.
Both studies will be presented at the academy's annual meeting in March in San Diego, California.