Migraines can be painful and debilitating, but they could also be a sign of something much worse, say European researchers, who have positively linked diagnoses of migraine with dementia.
And if that news wasn’t bad enough, it could be worse for women, for whom the prevalence of dementia after migraine diagnoses was much higher than for men.
According to Headache Australia, about 20 per cent of the population suffers from migraines at some stage in their lives.
The study investigated the association between migraine diagnoses and dementia in patients aged between 60 and 80 tracked through general practices in the United Kingdom.
This study used data from the Disease Analyzer database (IQVIA), which compiles drug prescriptions, diagnoses and basic medical and demographic data obtained from computer systems used in general practitioner and specialist practices.
Patients aged between 60 and 80, including 3727 individuals with and 3727 without a migraine diagnosis, were tracked between January 1997 and December 2016 (index date) at least 12 months prior to the index date with a follow-up time of at least 12 months after the index date.
Patients without migraine diagnoses were matched one to one to patients with migraine diagnoses and with similar age, sex, index year and co-diagnoses of conditions or diseases such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, depression, brain injury, mental and behavioural disorders due to alcohol use, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and osteoporosis.
The study revealed a concerning prevalence of dementia as a direct function of migraine diagnosis within 10 years of the index date that was only significant in women and not in men.
“Several biological and clinical hypotheses may explain the association between migraine headaches and dementia,” explained Dr Louis Jacob, from the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines.
“For example, migraine headaches involve chronic pain, which has been found to substantially impact the risk of memory decline and dementia. As women usually have more severe migraine attacks, the risk of dementia in women with migraine could be higher than in men with migraine.”
The authors of the study noted that “further studies are warranted to gain a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms of the migraine-dementia relationship and the different sexes in the association between migraine and dementia.”
Read more at Science Daily
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