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You are here : 3-RX.com > Home > Migraine -

Millions in US suffer migraines needlessly

MigraineJun 23, 05

The results of a new survey suggest that more than 11 million Americans could benefit from treatment to prevent migraines, yet only 1.4 million actually take these medications.

Based on findings from the American Migraine Prevalence and Prevention study, which involved a survey of 162,576 US residents, researchers estimate that about 28 million Americans experience migraine headaches. Of these individuals, 11.5 million are considered candidates for preventative medications, because they experience at least one migraine per week.

“We estimated that 5 to 10 percent of eligible patients were not receiving such agents,” Dr. Stephen D. Silberstein told Reuters Health, but, as it turned out, it was actually the majority of patients. “There is a major unmet need for preventative medications among migraine sufferers,” he said.

Silberstein, from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, will present the study findings Friday at the annual scientific meeting of the American Headache Society in Philadelphia.

There are five general classes of preventative medications for migraine—anticonvulsants, antihypertensives, antidepressants, serotonin antagonists, and unconventional treatments such as vitamins and magnesium salts. A sixth category is botulinum toxin type A, or Botox, which is not yet approved by the FDA for treatment of migraine.

According to the report, up to 43 percent of migraine sufferers are severely affected—having migraines more than 6 days per month, unable to perform regular functions more than 4 days per month, or requiring bed rest more than 3 days per month. These individuals should definitely be offered preventative therapy.

Up to 18 percent of patients are less severely affected, but may still benefit from such therapy and so it should be considered as an option.

The reason for the high rate of undertreatment may, in part, be due to a problem of recognition. “Only about half of the people surveyed were aware that their headaches were migraines,” Silberstein noted.

“There needs to be increased awareness about migraines and increased use of preventative agents,” he emphasized. “In the last 10 to 15 years, all we’ve been hearing about is ... treating attacks after they occur, and that’s not the answer.”

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