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Asthma Patients Twice As Likely To Develop Migraines

First Posted: Nov 30, 2015 10:33 PM EST
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Asthma patients are twice as likely to suffer from chronic migraines than those without the health condition, according to a recent study.

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati and Montefiore Headache Center examined the link between migraines and asthma. Both health issues are the result of inflammation.

"If you have asthma along with episodic or occasional migraine, then your headaches are more likely to evolve into a more disabling form known as chronic migraine," Dr. Vincent Martin, a professor of medicine at the University of Cincinnati, said in a news release. "The strength of the relationship is robust -- asthma was a stronger predictor of chronic migraine than depression, which other studies have found to be one of the most potent conditions associated with the future development of chronic migraine."

During the study, researchers analyzed data on 4,446 people with a mean age of 50.4 years, with 80.8 percent of the participants being women. From there, they were split into two groups: those who had asthma and those who did not. Researchers were required to complete surveys in 2008 and 2009 in which the study authors asked about depression, frequency of episodic migraines and headaches, medication use and smoking status.

"In this study, persons with episodic migraine and asthma at baseline were more than twice as likely to develop chronic migraine after one year of follow-up as compared to those with episodic migraine but not asthma," Martin said. "The strength of the relationship is robust; asthma was a stronger predictor of chronic migraine than depression, which other studies have found to be one of the most potent conditions associated with the future development of chronic migraine."

The researchers noted that preexisting asthma was a strong risk factor for chronic migraines-even more so than depression-and among the strongest risk factors in the 2009 study. The 2008 survey showed that 17 percent of participants reported having asthma, with about 2.9 percent who completed the 2008 survey reporting that they developed chronic migraines by the 2009 survey. Of these participants, 5.4 percent had asthma in 2008, versus 2.5 percent who did not have it.

The findings are published in the journal Headache.

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