Migraines that affect vision may increase irregular heartbeat risk

New York: People who experience migraine with visual aura may have an increased risk of irregular heartbeat, and as a result stroke, say researchers including one of an Indian-origin.

Migraine with visual aura is when disturbances in vision occur right before the head pain begins. Those disturbances may include seeing wavy lines or flashes of light, or having blurry vision or blind spots.

With an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation, the heart’s normal rhythm is out of sync. As a result, blood may pool in the heart, possibly forming clots that may go to the brain, causing a stroke.

The study suggested that atrial fibrillation may play a role in stroke in those with migraine with visual aura.

“It is important to note that people with migraine with aura may be at a higher risk of atrial fibrillation due to problems with the autonomic nervous system, which helps control the heart and blood vessels,” said Souvik Sen, from the University of South Carolina in the US.

For the study, published in the journal, Neurology, the team examined 11,939 people with an average age of 60 without prior atrial fibrillation or stroke were evaluated for headache.

The results revealed an estimated nine out of 1,000 people with migraine with aura suffer atrial fibrillation compared to seven out of 1,000 people with migraine without aura.

The rate of stroke in the migraine with aura group was four out of 1,000 people annually compared to two out of 1,000 people annually in those with migraine without aura, and three of 1,000 people annually in those with no headache, the findings suggested.

“Atrial fibrillation can be managed through medication, but many people do not realise that they have atrial fibrillation,” Sen noted.