Background and Purpose

To evaluate the association between cumulative exposure to migraine and incidence of ischemic stroke in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study.

Methods

In this ongoing, prospective longitudinal community‐based cohort, participants were interviewed to ascertain migraine history at the third visit (1993–1995), followed for ischemic stroke incidence over 20 years. We performed a post hoc analysis to evaluate the association between the age of migraine onset and ischemic stroke.

Results

We identified 447 migraineurs with aura (MA) and 1128 migraineurs without aura (MO) among 11,592 black and white participants. There was an association between the age of MA onset ≥50 years old (average duration = 4.75 years) and ischemic stroke when compared to no headache group (multivariable adjusted HR = 2.17, 95% CI [1.39–3.39], P < .001). MA onset <50 years old (average duration = 28.17 years) was not associated with stroke (multivariable adjusted HR = 1.31, 95% CI [0.86–2.02], P = .212). These results were consistent with our logistic regression model. MO was not associated with increased stroke regardless of the age of onset. The absolute risk for stroke in migraine with aura is 37/447 (8.27%) and migraine without aura is 48/1128 (4.25%).

Conclusion

As compared to the no headache participants, increased stroke risk in late life was observed in participants with late onset of MA. In this cohort, longer cumulative exposure to migraine with visual aura, as would be expected with early onset of migraine, was not associated with increased risk of ischemic stroke in late life. This study underscores the importance of the age of onset of MA in assessing stroke risk in older migraineurs.

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