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The Migraine Cycle: Patient Burden of Migraine During and Between Migraine Attacks

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(Headache 2008;48:430-441)

Migraine is a neurologic disorder characterized by a cycle of attacks, including headache, separated by attack-free periods. Increasingly, episodic migraine is recognized as a disorder that may escalate to chronic migraine, with a frequency of 15 or more attacks per month. Migraine exacts a toll on the quality of life (QoL) of affected individuals, their families, and their workplace. Migraine adversely affects a patient's QoL during an attack, but also has an impact between attacks. This interictal burden on the patient manifests itself as worry in anticipation of the next painful attack and concern over its possible adverse impact on future plans or activities. The high prevalence of migraine, 12% in industrialized countries and approximately 28 million people in the United States, is considered a low estimate. Patients with disruptive migraines frequently overuse self-prescribed medications or may postpone a visit to a physician, which delays accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment for migraine. Consequently, migraine remains underdiagnosed and undertreated. An extensive literature search of migraine reviewed its associated disability and reduced QoL during, and especially between, attacks. Assessment tools to evaluate the interictal burden on QoL, and to help in migraine diagnosis and patient–physician communication, are readily available. Nevertheless, patients with frequent and recurring migraines, who suffer a reduced QoL, continue to be underrecognized and undertreated. This segment of the migraine population could benefit from preventive therapy.
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Keywords: beta-blockers; headache; migraine; migraine preventive medication; neurostabilizers; quality of life

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: March 1, 2008

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