You asked, we answered: Do frequent headaches mean I'm more likely to have a stroke?

picture of a woman struggling with a headache



Do people who experience frequent headaches have a higher risk for stroke?

Answered by neurologist Elizabeth Hartman, MD:

There's not a strong correlation between headaches and stroke. The exception to that in women who have migraines with aura. We do see that their risk of stroke is a little bit higher than the general population. 

A rare condition called giant cell arteritis (GCA), meaning inflammation of the blood vessels, can cause both headaches and strokes. 

An aneurysm or hemorrhage can cause headaches as well. So we screen people with a family history of aneurysm and are also having headaches to make sure they have no sign of aneurysm.

The vast majority of people who have headaches have the same risk of stroke of everyone else.

Red flags

If you experience any of the following red flags, call 911 or go straight to the ER. These are signs and symptoms of stroke:

  • Sudden onset, severe headache (thunderclap headache)
  • Dizziness
  • Slurred speech
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Visual changes