Migraine Epidemiology

In the US population the one-year prevalence of migraine is 12%.  The prevalence of migraine is 18.2% among females and 6.5% among males.  Approximately 23% of households have at least one member suffering from migraine.

Prevalence increased from age 12 years to about age 40 years and declined thereafter in both sexes. Fifty-three percent of respondents reported that their severe headaches caused substantial impairment in activities or required bed rest. Approximately 31% missed at least 1 day of work or school in the previous 3 months because of migraine while 51% reported that work or school productivity was reduced by at least 50%.

Prevalence increased from age 12 years to about age 40 years and declined thereafter in both sexes. Fifty-three percent of respondents reported that their severe headaches caused substantial impairment in activities or required bed rest. Approximately 31% missed at least 1 day of work or school in the previous 3 months because of migraine while 51% reported that work or school productivity was reduced by at least 50%.

Migraine is more common than osteoarthritis (present in 7% of the population), Diabetes (present in 6%) and asthma (present in 7%).  About 48% of migraine patients have been diagnosed while 56% have not.  The condition is most prevalent between the ages of 30 and 49.

The peak age of involvement for women is 42 years old, while in men it is 38.  Frequency can range from one attack a year to two or three a week.  Migraine is undertreated in the US population.  57% of migraineurs used over the-counter medications in 1959 while preventive medications were rarely used—only in 20% of patients.  Only about half of affected patients (56%) even know that they have migraine.  50% of migraine suffers get sinus symptoms, which along with inaccurate TV ads on pseudaphed for “Sinus Headache” tricks them into thinking they have a sinus condition.

Migraine brings remarkable short-term disability with 50% to 95% having trouble functioning during an attack.  More than half of patients experience disability or the need to go to bed during an attack.

In the US annual lost productivity due to migraine costs 13 billion dollars, while direct costs are thought to be 2.5 billion dollars.  The National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, taken from 1976-1977, found that 4% of all visits to physicians’ offices—which was over 10 million visits per year—were for headache.  Migraine also causes high utilization of emergency room care.