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Millions of migraine sufferers could benefit from better use of medical care

ST. PAUL, MN While more than 28 million U.S. adults (13 percent of the total) suffer from migraine headaches, less than one-half are seeking medical treatment and taking advantage of the latest in prescription medications, according to a study published in the current issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

This study shows that migraine prevalence in the United States has remained stable over the past 10 years. And while the rate of medical consultation for migraine has increased significantly, from 16 percent in 1989 to 48 percent currently, many millions of migraine sufferers continue to treat their pain with over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and pain medications containing caffeine (such as Excedrin or Anacin).

Over-the-counter medications are an appropriate option for many migraine suffers, says study author Richard Lipton, MD, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York. But given the advances in migraine treatment and the self-reported patient satisfaction with prescription medication, many migraine sufferers would suffer less with appropriate medical attention.

In this population-based study, 4,376 migraine sufferers (found among the 11,863 households initially contacted) were interviewed by phone in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, a demographically diverse region that mirrors the U.S. population. Consistent with previous studies, Liptons colleagues found 17.2 percent of women and 6 percent of men met International Headache Society criteria for migraine. The median migraine duration (unmedicated) was 24 hours, but women had on average longer attacks, with a higher percentage experiencing attacks of 48 hours or more. Of those who were employed or students, nearly two-thirds of migraine sufferers reported missing days within the previous year; more than one-third reported missing days within the previous three months; and nearly half reported missing
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Contact: Cheryl Alementi
calementi@aan.com
651-695-2737
American Academy of Neurology
25-Mar-2002


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