Migraine Associated With Lower Calcification Burden of Cranial Arteries

arteries head and neck angiography
Once differences in cardiovascular risk factors were adjusted, researchers found that a lifetime history of migraine corresponded with less calcification in the intracranial carotid artery in comparison with people without a history of migraines.

Individuals with a lifetime history of migraine had significantly smaller calcification volumes associated with intracranial carotid arteries vs individuals without migraine, according to a study published in Cephalalgia.

The investigators of this prospective population-based study sought to examine the association between migraine and arterial calcification of the major vessel beds, including the coronary arteries, aortic arch, and intracranial and extracranial carotid arteries.

The study included 1856 middle-aged and elderly participants from the population-based Rotterdam Study cohort. The investigators assessed the presence of lifetime migraine using a validated questionnaire and vascular calcification using computed tomography. The latter measure was expressed by Agatston score for coronary arteries and volume in millimeters³ for the aortic arch and intracranial and extracranial carotid arteries. Using linear regression models, the investigators analyzed the association between migraine and calcification score/volume; analyses were adjusted for age, gender, atherosclerosis risk factors, and calcification in other vessels.  

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Of the participants, 279 (15%) had a history of lifetime migraine. In multivariable adjusted analyses, individuals with migraine were associated with significantly lower calcification volume of the intracranial carotid artery vs individuals without migraine (difference -0.19; 95% CI, -0.29 to -0.08). A trend toward lower coronary artery scores and lower aortic arch and extracranial carotid artery volumes was reported among individuals with migraine; however, these associations were not considered statistically significant.

Limitations to the study include the method of assessment of lifetime migraine, which may have included individuals with moderate instead of severe pain and which may have classified participants with aura symptoms without headache as individuals without migraine. Because individuals with migraine were younger than individuals without migraine, the investigators suggest the potential occurrence of recall bias. Finally, some migraine medications may affect atherosclerosis and were not corrected for, leading to residual confounding.

The investigators suggest that individuals with lifetime migraine had less arterial calcification in the intracranial carotid artery than individuals without migraine. Although participants with migraine also showed lower calcification burden in the other arterial beds, these differences did not reach statistical significance.

Multiple authors declare affiliations with the pharmaceutical industry. Please refer to reference for a complete list of authors’ disclosures.

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Wen KX, Ikram MA, Franco OH, et al. Association of migraine with calcification in major vessel beds: The Rotterdam Study [published online April 8, 2019]. Cephalalgia. doi: 10.1177/0333102419843148

This article originally appeared on Neurology Advisor