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Migraine comorbidities rise with increased headache days



– The more days per month a person reported experiencing migraine headaches the greater their prevalence of various comorbidities associated with migraine headaches, including insomnia, depression, anxiety, and gastric ulcer disease, according to results from a survey of more than 92,000 U.S. residents.

Dr. Richard B. Lipton, professor of neurology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York Mitchel L. Zoler/MDedge News

Dr. Richard B. Lipton

“Increasing monthly headache day [MHD] frequency was associated with an increased risk of other health conditions in people with migraine,” Richard B. Lipton, MD, and his associates reported in a poster at the annual meeting of the American Headache Society. “The findings may be due to direct causality, reverse causality, shared risk factors, or detection bias.”

Additional analysis of the association with gastric ulcer disease (GUD) showed that it also linked with the number of days per month when a person with migraine used an NSAID. Migraineurs who self-reported having GUD averaged 10.5 days a month using an NSAID, compared with an average NSAID usage of just over 6 days a month among migraineurs without GUD, Dr. Lipton, a professor and vice-chair of neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, reported in a separate poster at the meeting.

The Migraine in America Symptoms and Treatment (MAST) study enrolled more than 90,000 U.S. residents starting in 2016. Using a validated diagnostic screening tool, the MAST researchers identified 15,133 of these people as having at least one day with a migraine headache during the 3 months prior to the survey and 77,453 who reported no migraine history (Headache. 2018 Oct;58[9]: 1408-26). The people with migraine averaged 43 years old, compared with an average of 52 years for those without migraine; 73% of the migraineurs were women.

Analysis of the prevalence of various self-reported, physician-diagnosed comorbidities showed a strong correlation between the relative odds of having a comorbidity and the self-reported number of MHDs. For example, the odds ratio for having insomnia, compared with the people without migraine, was nearly 200% among people reporting 1-4 MHDs, more than 300% higher among those reporting 5-9 MHDs, 500% higher with MHDs of 10-14, and nearly 700% higher among people reporting 20 or more MHDs. The researchers saw roughly similar patterns of rising comorbidity prevalence with higher numbers of MHDs for depression, anxiety, and GUD. The prevalence of a history of stroke or transient ischemic attack also increased with increasing numbers of MHDs but less steeply than for the other comorbidities. And while the prevalence of peripheral artery disease and epilepsy was consistently more than 100% greater among the migraineurs, compared with those with no recent migraine history, the prevalence of each of these two comorbidities showed no clear pattern of increasing prevalence as MHDs increased.

The analysis looked specifically at the relationship between GUD and NSAID use among people reporting migraine. Overall, the migraineurs had a greater than 200% increased prevalence of GUD than those without migraine. The odds ratio for GUD among migraineurs with 1-4 MHDs was 2.6, compared with those without migraine, and the odds ratio steadily rose with increasing MHDs to a peak of 490% higher among those who averaged 21 or more MHDs.

This link between the number of MHDs and prevalence of GUD may have some relationship to oral NSAID use, as overall NSAID use was higher among people with recent migraines than in those without migraines. However, the number of days per month of oral NSAID use appeared to plateau at an average of about 19 days once people reported having at least 10 MHDs, the researchers said. Even when people reported having more than twice as many MHDs their NSAID use remained at an average of about 19 days per month.

MAST was sponsored by Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories. Dr. Lipton had been a consultant to Dr. Reddy’s and to several other companies.

SOURCE: Lipton RB et al. Headache. 2019 June;59[S1]:1-208, P54.

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