March 26, 2010

When Will Your Next Migraine Strike?

In a survey of 1500 people that suffer painful migraines, researchers conclude that most sufferers have no idea when their next headaches will strike.

Reuters reports that Dr. X. Henry Hu of Merck & Co., based out of West Point, Penn., said that this is important information, because early treatments with migraine drugs called triptans can help reduce migraine severity.

Hu and his colleagues had about 1500 migraine sufferers complete a 10-minute survey, and then had them complete another survey after their next migraine. Only 877 people filled out the follow-up survey. Nearly 80 percent of participants were women.

About 4 percent of those who filled out the second survey said they were able to predict the exact date when their next migraine would occur. About 20 percent were able to predict their next migraine within 3 days, while 47 percent were able to accurately predict the time of day of their next migraine. 70 percent of those who filled out the second survey were able to predict the location of their next migraine.

Researchers found that pre-menopausal women, who suffer headaches around the time of their period, may have been able to predict their next migraine more accurately, but their predictions were no more accurate than others'. It is possible this is because women will suffer migraines at other times as well, the team reported.

About 93 percent of migraine sufferers have reported that they were often forced to change their daily plans because of migraine attacks. One in five said they had "avoided" work-related commitments because they were afraid of getting migraines. 27 percent reported canceling work commitments due to migraines and 28 percent said they canceled social commitments due to fear of migraines.

Hu and his colleagues said that the unpredictability of migraines may contribute to people's anxiety and fear about them. "Because of the lack of predictability of future migraine attacks, migraine sufferers may benefit from increased education on the importance of keeping medications available at all times."

Merck, who funded the study, makes the prescription drug Maxalt, which is reportedly an effective migraine medicine.

The study was published March 25, 2010 in the journal Headache


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