Get access

Stroke and Chest Pain in Young People With Migraine



  • Michael Hoffmann MD

Address all correspondence to Michael Hoffmann, MD, Department of Neurology, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida 33612.


Background.—Cerebrovascular and cardiovascular complications in migraineurs may be part of the migraine process and also consequent to triptan treatment

Aim.—To determine the frequency, subtypes and associations of migraine-associated stroke and angina in young people (18–49 years).

Methods.—Patients were derived from a tertiary referral migraine and stroke registry. Migraine-associated stroke was classified according to the four groups described by Welch and by the TOAST etiological stroke classification. A clinical description of angina during a migraine attack was required for the diagnosis of cardiac migraine without concomitant triptan or other vasoactive medications

Results.—Of the young patients with stroke (349/1316; 26.5%), there were 30 (30/349; 8.6%) who had migraine at the time of stroke when categorized by the Welch classification type II to IV (type II n = 5, type III n = 2, type IV n = 3). Comparison of type I (n = 20) versus types II–IV (n = 10) showed significant difference (P= .03). Topographically the lesions were distributed into the partial anterior circulation (n = 8) and posterior circulation (n = 2) (P= .04). Comparison of anterior and posterior circulation territories of infarction indicated significant difference (n = 26/30 and 4/30; P= .01). The stroke etiological subtypes included cardiogenic (n = 5), atherogenic (n = 15), other (n = 5), and unknown (n = 5), with none diagnosed with small-vessel cerebrovascular disease. Traditional stroke mechanistic entities (cardiac and atherogenic) differed significantly in comparison to the other and unknown categories P= .05. Cardiovascular patients with angina during a migraine attack (n = 9/1040; 0.9%), included IHS subtypes; migraine without aura (n = 4), migraine with aura (n = 4), and complicated migraine (n = 1). One patient required cardiac catheterization on account of significant ECG changes, with documented, reversible vasospasm.

Conclusion.—(i) Migraine-induced stroke remains controversial, with only two probable cases of type Welch III A+B in a large registry. (ii) Cardiac migraine may be a distinct entity requiring careful differentiation from triptan-induced chest pain.

Get access to the full text of this article