People with migraines often suffer a number of related conditions, including, according to recent data, stroke. In response, some doctors are recommending people who get migraines with aura be prescribed statins to help reduce risk. However, there is no proof that this is a good strategy.
The Link between Migraines and Stroke
Recent meta-analyses of a wide range of studies has shown that people with migraines are at an increased risk of strokes in the future. As a preventive measure, some doctors are recommending that people with migraines should be prescribed statins to help reduce their stroke risk.
The risk of stroke for men with migraines with aura is about 2.5 times higher, and nearly three times higher for women. Risks increase even more in smokers and women using oral contraception, raising risks by factors of nine and seven, respectively.
There were several potential mechanisms that link the two conditions, such as sensitivity in the lining of blood vessels, irregularities in the platelets, the clotting mechanism in blood, the presence of tiny clogs in the brain, essentially micro strokes, and the potential that migraine prescription drugs that constrict blood vessels could increase stroke risk.
What Are the Risks of Statins?
Statins have a wide range of serious, even deadly side effects. Many people taking statins experience muscle pain or weakness. This can even progress into a type of muscle damage that can cause life-threatening kidney damage and liver failure because of all the proteins released into the blood. The liver can also be damaged directly by statins.
Statins can cause digestive problems such as indigestion, constipation, nausea, or gassiness. It can even lead to elevated blood sugar levels and type 2 diabetes.
Statin risk is highest for:
- Older individuals
- People who are small
- People who have diabetes, kidney or liver disease
- Heavy drinkers
In general, it seems like recommending people take statins with such a tenuous connection is probably a bit premature. It would be best to see just how statins influence risk for migraine sufferers first–they may even increase risk.
And, it’s important to note, there is no evidence that statins will have any impact on your migraines. They are not a migraine treatment.