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Study Finds Association Between Migraine and Dementia Among Women

Alison Rodriguez
Researchers said that the results reveal a need for future studies in order to obtain a better understanding of the migraine-dementia relationship and how the relationship varies between the sexes.
There may be a positive association between migraine and dementia for women, according to a recent study published by the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

The study used the Disease Analyzer database to collect data involving drug prescriptions, diagnoses, and basic medical and demographic data in order to investigate the association between migraine diagnoses and dementia followed in general practices in the United Kingdom.

The sample included patients with a migraine diagnosis between January 1997 and December 2016, who were then matched to patients without migraine diagnoses. The researchers’ main outcome was the incidence of dementia as a function of migraine diagnosis within 10 years of the index date, according to the study.

In total, 3727 individuals had a migraine diagnosis, and another 3727 individuals did not. The average age was 67.7 years old and 72.9% of the patients were women. Additionally, 10 years following the index date, 5.2% of the participants with and 3.7% of the patients without migraine diagnoses were diagnosed with dementia—5.8% and 3.6% in women and 4.5% and 3.4%, respectively.

"Several biological and clinical hypotheses may explain the association between migraine headaches and dementia," Louis Jacob, PhD, from the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, stated. "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 researchers suggest that these results reveal a need for future studies in order to obtain a better understanding of the migraine-dementia relationship and how the relationship varies between the sexes.

"We have conducted several studies focused on dementia in recent years," corresponding author Karel Kostev, PhD, from the Epidemiology Department of IQVIA, noted. "We have been able to identify positive associations between osteoporosis and dementia and between epilepsy and dementia, but have also observed the negative association between some antiepileptic, antidepressant, and antihypertensive drugs and dementia incidence. Such findings demonstrate the significant role of anonymous patient data in epidemiology research for helping people recognize and avoid health risk factors in the future."

Despite the results, the authors noted that the study was limited as it did not adjust for several common comorbidities as well as the limited age range of the participants.

Reference

Kostev K, Bohlken J, Jacob L. Association between migraine headaches and dementia in more than 7,400 patients followed in general practices in the United Kingdom [published online August 6, 2019].  J. Alzheimers Dis. doi: 10.3233/JAD-190581.

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