In evaluating the cardiovascular risks of triptans (5-HT1B/1D agonists) for the treatment of migraine, the possible relationship between migraine and cardiovascular disease warrants careful assessment. The vascular nature of migraine is compatible with the possibility that migraine is a manifestation of cardiovascular disease or is linked to cardiovascular disease via a common mechanism. If so, then migraine itself—independent of the use of triptans—may be associated with an increased risk of cardiac events.
This article considers the epidemiologic literature pertinent to evaluating the association of migraine with coronary heart disease. The research reviewed herein fails to support an association between migraine and coronary heart disease. First, data from several large cohort studies show that the presence of migraine does not increase risk of coronary heart disease. Furthermore, although migraineurs are generally more likely than nonmigraineurs to report chest pain, the presence of chest pain in most studies did not predict serious cardiac events such as myocardial infarction. That the gender- and age-specific prevalence of migraine does not overlap with that of coronary heart disease is also consistent with a lack of association between migraine and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. While migraine appears not to be associated with coronary heart disease, preliminary evidence suggests a possible link of migraine with vasospastic disorders such as variant angina and Raynaud's phenomenon. These results warrant further investigation in large prospective studies.