According to new research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and published in this month’s British Medical Journal (BMJ), migraines are not associated with cognitive decline.
6349 women aged 65 or older enrolled in the Women’s Health Study and provided information about migraine status at baseline and participated in cognitive testing during follow-up. Participants were classified into four groups: no history of migraine, migraine with aura, migraine without aura, and past history of migraine (reports of migraine history but no migraine in the year prior to baseline).
Cognitive testing was done at two year intervals up to three times using the telephone interview for cognitive status, immediate and delayed recall and a category fluency test. All tests were combined into a global cognitive score, and tests assessing verbal memory were combined to create a verbal memory score.
Of the 6349 women, 853 (13.4%) reported any migraine; of these, 195 (22.9%) reported migraine with aura, 248 (29.1%) migraine without aura, and 410 (48.1%) a past history of migraine. Compared with women with no history of migraine, those who experienced migraine with or without aura or had a past history of migraine did not have significantly different rates of cognitive decline in any of the cognitive scores
The researchers point out that there is still a lot that is unknown about migraines. But the current study offers promising evidence for patients and their treating physicians. More research needs to be done to understand the consequences of migraine on the brain and to establish strategies to influence the course of the disease in order to optimize treatment strategies.