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The prevalence of migraine in women aged 40–74 years: a population-based study


Peter Mattsson, Department of Neuroscience, Neurology, University Hospital, S-751 85 Uppsala, Sweden. Tel. 46 18 665035, fax 46 18 665027, e-mail


The objective of this study was to investigate the age-dependence of the prevalence and characteristics of migraine headache and migraine visual aura. A neurologist interviewed 728 women attending a mammography screening programme. International Headache Society (IHS) criteria were used. The lifetime prevalence of migraine headache was 31.5% and the 1-year prevalence 18.0%. The magnitude of the decline of the prevalence of active (one or more attacks in the previous year) migraine headache was estimated to 50% per decade. The prevalence of active migraine visual aura was 3.8%. This did not vary by age. Except for the pain intensity and the presence of nausea, other characteristics and concomitant symptoms did not change with age. Active migraine headache and migraine visual aura in middle-aged and older women are common and modified differently by age. We suggest that the decline of prevalence of active migraine headache with age is caused by a decrease in pain intensity.