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Migraine and the Presidency

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The disclosure that 2012 presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has migraines resulted in intense public and physician interest in the migraine of presidents, migraine and potential presidential disability, and the politics of migraine that are reviewed in this article. Jefferson had severe headaches that may have been a migraine variant. Lincoln, Grant, and Wilson were, John Adams and Eisenhower might have been, and Truman and Kennedy may have been migraineurs. First Ladies Abigail Adams, Lincoln, Eisenhower, and Kennedy all suffered from migraines. Although migraines can usually be effectively treated, disabling attacks could occur because of the accentuated triggers of office that could prevent a future president from being temporarily able to discharge the duties of office. The 25th amendment is available to voluntarily transfer powers of office to the vice president even for a short period of time. The current $13 million per year in research funding provided by the National Institutes of Health is clearly inadequate to the task of improving treatment for such a pervasive, disabling disease that so profoundly affects so many Americans including presidential candidates, presidents, and first ladies. A survey of the Southern Headache Society on migraine and presidential disability is also presented.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: From the Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA.

Publication date: 2011-10-01

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