People who suffer from migraine with aura face a higher risk of death through heart disease or stroke.
A research team, led by Larus Gudmundsson from the University of Iceland, assessed the impact of mid-life migraine episodes in 18,725 men and women born between 1907 and 1935 who took part in the Reykjavik Study (set up in 1967 by the Icelandic Heart Association to study heart disease in Iceland). In total the research team explored over 470,000 person-years of data with a follow-up of 26 years.
Gudmundsson and colleagues used questionnaires to assess migraine with and without aura.
The results concluded that men and women who suffered from migraine with aura were at an increased risk of dying from all causes, as well as heart disease and stroke, while those with migraine without aura were not at increased risk.
Furthermore, the study says that women who experience migraine with aura are also at a higher risk of dying from causes other than cardiovascular disease or cancer.
"However, it remains to be seen which diseases drive the risk increase seen for women with migraine," the researchers said.
The researchers concluded that the individual risk faced by migraine sufferers is low, and efforts to reduce heart disease deaths should focus on conventional risk factors such as high blood pressure, smoking and high cholesterol, regardless of migraine status.
They call for more research on the association between migraine and death from cardiovascular disease and all other causes.
"Finally, studies are needed to determine if reducing the frequency of attacks with migraine preventive treatment might reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease," they said.
A second paper revealed that female sufferers of migraines with aura are also at a higher risk of haemorrhagic stroke (where bleeding occurs in the brain).
These account for around 20 percent of all strokes.
The research has been published on bmj.com.