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  • Migraine: The forgotten epidemic?

Migraine: The forgotten epidemic?

Read time: 2 mins
Last updated:11th Nov 2019
Published:22nd Oct 2019
Source: Medthority
Despite Migraine being the most prevalent neurological disorder, affecting a large number of people worldwide, it remains a largely misunderstood condition. We’ve curated a series of articles, beginning below with short introductions to the epidemiology and pathophysiology of migraine.

Scroll down to read more and find out how personalisation of treatment is becoming more important; a theme which we’ll be exploring further when looking at current and future treatments respectively.

The epidemiology of migraine

Migraine is the most prevalent neurological disorder affecting a large number of people worldwide.  Usually characterised by an intense pulsing or throbbing pain in one area of the head, these headaches are often accompanied by nausea or vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound. According to the US National Institutes of Health, migraine affects approximately 10% of people worldwide and is three times more common in women than men, with a peak of prevalence between ages of 22 and 55. Data suggests it ranks as the second main cause of years lived with disability, especially in the young and middle-aged.

“It affects quality of life and a patient’s functional ability during, immediately after, and between migraine episodes”. 

Yet the disease has remained largely ignored: in 2006, the European Headache Federation and World Headache Alliance described migraine as a “forgotten epidemic”. The 2011 EUROLIGHT study of people in 10 European countries revealed a pressing need for medication: in most places, fewer than 10% of participants were receiving adequate acute treatment, and even less had any preventative medication [ref 1].

Pathophysiology of migraine

Migraine is believed to have around a 50% genetic component, and with typically only half of patients responding to medication despite drug-use usually being tailored to each patient’s needs, further refinement to this personalised treatment approach is now required.

Exploring personalisation of treatment in migraine

The pharma industry is responding, and a number of promising treatments have been approved or are now in trials. It’s clearly a promising market: in 2017, for example, analysts Decision Resources predicted that the migraine market in seven key countries—the U.S., France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the U.K. and Japan— was set to rise from around $3 billion in 2015 to more than $10 billion in 2025.


In our next article, we look at current treatments including non-specific drugs such as analgesics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, as well as ergot derivatives and triptans which work by vasoconstriction and inhibition of neurotransmitter release.

Also take a look at future hopes for migraine treatments here.


“Migraine is first cause of disability in under 50s: will health politicians now take notice?” Timothy J. Steiner et al. The Journal of Headache and Pain volume 19, Article number: 17 (2018)  DOI: 10.1186/s10194-018-0846-2.

Learning Zones

The Learning Zones are an educational resource for healthcare professionals that provide medical information on the epidemiology, pathophysiology and burden of disease, as well as diagnostic techniques and treatment regimens.