Migraine has many presumed comorbidities which have rarely been compared between samples with and without migraine. Examining the association between headache pain intensity and monthly headache day (MHD) frequency with migraine comorbidities is novel and adds to our understanding of migraine comorbidity.
The MAST Study is a prospective, web-based survey that identified US population samples of persons with migraine (using modified International Classification of Headache Disorders-3 beta criteria) and without migraine. Eligible migraine participants averaged ≥1 MHDs over the prior 3 months. Comorbidities “confirmed by a healthcare professional diagnosis” were endorsed by respondents from a list of 21 common cardiovascular, neurologic, psychiatric, sleep, respiratory, dermatologic, pain and medical comorbidities. Multivariable binary logistic regression calculated odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals for each condition between the two groups adjusting for sociodemographics. Modeling within the migraine cohort assessed rates of conditions as a function of headache pain intensity, MHD frequency, and their combination.
Analyses included 15,133 people with migraine (73.0% women, 77.7% White, mean age 43 years) and 77,453 controls (46.4% women, 76.8% White, mean age 52 years). People with migraine were significantly (P < 0.001) more likely to report insomnia (OR 3.79 [3.6, 4.0]), depression (OR 3.18 [3.0, 3.3]), anxiety (OR 3.18 [3.0 3.3]), gastric ulcers/GI bleeding (OR 3.11 [2.8, 3.5]), angina (OR 2.64 [2.4, 3.0]) and epilepsy (OR 2.33 [2.0, 2.8]), among other conditions. Increasing headache pain intensity was associated with comorbidities related to inflammation (psoriasis, allergy), psychiatric disorders (depression, anxiety) and sleep conditions (insomnia). Increasing MHD frequency was associated with increased risk for nearly all conditions and most prominent among those with comorbid gastric ulcers/GI bleeding, diabetes, anxiety, depression, insomnia, asthma and allergies/hay fever.
In regression models controlled for sociodemographic variables, all conditions studied were reported more often by those with migraine. Whether entered into the models separately or together, headache pain intensity and MHD frequency were associated with increased risk for many conditions. Future work is required to understand the causal sequence of relationships (direct causality, reverse causality, shared underlying predisposition), the potential confounding role of healthcare professional consultation and treatment, and potential detection bias.