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Migraine and Oral Contraceptives - Review Article

     WJ Becker

Abstract:   Initiation of oral contraceptive (OC) therapy in migraine may worsen pre-existing migraine or change the pattern of the individual migraine attacks. Many women experience no change in their migraine and a few show improvement. Evidence is accumulating that migraine increases ischemic stroke risk and that this risk is higher in migraine with aura than in migraine without aura. OCs also increase stroke risk, and the increased stroke risk attributable to each of migraine and OC therapy may be additive. The risk of ischemic stroke in young women is very low and likely remains acceptably low in young women with migraine without aura and in those with a simple migraine aura when OCs are prescribed. However, the presence of a complex or prolonged migraine aura, or of additional stroke risk factors such as increased age, smoking, and hypertension likely increases the ischemic stroke risk further in patients with migraine when OCs are prescribed. Whether OCs can be prescribed safely for the patient with migraine depends upon many factors including patient age, type of migraine, and the presence or absence of other stroke risk factors.

Can. J. Neurol. Sci. 1997; 24: 16-21


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