Statins for people who have migraines with aura

3 November 2015        

Statins Should statins be prescribed for people who suffer from migraines with aura?

Migraines affect around one in five women and one in 15 men. In about 30% of cases, a severe headache is preceded by an ‘aura’ which affects the person’s vision, balance and coordination.  

An editorial published in the British Journal of GPs this week reported, that for women in particular, having a migraine with aura is associated with a significantly increased risk of stroke and possibly linked with heart disease. The editorial raised the question of whether the threshold for prescribing statins for patients who have migraine with aura should therefore be lower than for other people in the population. 

More evidence needed

Professor Peter Weissberg, our Medical Director, said: “We would need more evidence, from randomised clinical trials or case controlled studies, that prescribing statins for people with migraine would indeed bring about a reduction in heart attacks and strokes before changing guidelines. This may be because the processes underlying heart attacks and strokes are different in migraine sufferers from the rest of the population, in which statins have been shown to be beneficial.”

If you’ve had a heart attack or stroke, you may be advised to take statins in order to reduce your risk of another event. Even if you’re in good health, you may be prescribed statins if you’re at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, for example, if you have a strong family history of cardiovascular disease. 

Professor Richard Hobbs, head of Primary Care (Health Sciences) at the University of Oxford, discusses the safety of statins in Heart Matters.