Headache subtypes: 30-year prospective cohort study

This BMJ study included 590 people aged 19-20 from a cohort of 4,500 residents of Zurich, Switzerland, interviewed 7 times across 30 years of follow-up.

The one-year prevalence of subtypes of headache were:

- 1% (female:male ratio of 2.8) for migraine with aura
- 11% (female:male ratio of 2.2) for migraine without aura
- 11% (female:male ratio of 1.2) for tension-type headache

The cumulative 30-year prevalence of headache subtypes were:

- 3% for migraine with aura
- 36% for migraine without aura
- 29% for tension-type headache

Despite the high prevalence of migraine without aura, most cases were transient and only 20% continued to have migraine for more than half of the follow-up period.

There was a substantial crossover among the subtypes and no specific pattern of progression.

The longitudinal overlap among subtypes of headache shows the developmental heterogeneity of headache syndromes.


Magnitude, impact, and stability of primary headache subtypes: 30 year prospective Swiss cohort study. BMJ, 2011.

Image source: Openclipart.org, public domain.

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