Women who have migraine with or without aura and women with a history of migraine do not have significantly different rates of cognitive decline than women with no history of migraine, according to research published in the August 8 online BMJ.
Compared with women without migraine, women with migraine did not have a greater risk of substantial cognitive decline, which was defined as the worst 10% of the distribution of decline from the first to the last cognitive assessment of the study.
To evaluate the association between migraine and cognitive decline among women, Pamela M. Rist, ScD, a research fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues analyzed 6,349 women who had enrolled in the Women’s Health Study. At two-year intervals, the investigators conducted as many as three cognitive tests, including the Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status, immediate and delayed recall trials of the East Boston Memory Test, a delayed recall trial of the Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status 10-word list, and a category fluency test. The researchers combined test scores to create global cognitive scores, and tests assessing verbal memory were combined to create verbal memory scores.
Of the study population, 853 women reported migraine, including 195 with migraine with aura, 248 with migraine without aura, and 410 with a history of migraine. The patients’ mean age was approximately 71.
“Based on these results, patients with migraine and their treating doctors should be reassured that migraine may not have long-term consequences on cognitive function,” said Dr. Rist. “We did observe greater rates of cognitive decline in the subgroup of women who experience migraine with aura and had a history of cardiovascular disease, compared with women who experience migraine with aura and did not have a history of cardiovascular disease. However, because of the multiple subgroup analyses, this result should be interpreted with caution, and further research is warranted to determine whether the interplay of migraine and cardiovascular disease leads to faster cognitive decline, and whether preventive strategies can be applied.”
Rist PM, Kang JH, Buring JE, et al. Migraine and cognitive decline among women: prospective cohort study. BMJ. 2012;Aug 8:345:e5027.