The aims of this ancillary study to the Italian Longitudinal Study of Aging were: (1) to provide reliable prevalence data on headache in an elderly population, (2) to classify the subtypes of headache according to International Headache Society criteria, and (3) to identify possible risk factors and associated pathologies in the elderly.
A total of 312 subjects were examined, 148 women and 164 men, with a mean age of 73 years (SD 5.5). For 236 subjects (75.7%), 141 men (85.9%) and 95 women (64.2%), headache had never been a problem; 57 subjects (18.3%), 21 men (12.8%) and 36 women (24.3%), reported troublesome headache only in the past. Nineteen subjects (6%), 6 men (3.6%) and 13 women (8.8%), reported current headache: in this group tension-type headache was the most prevalent, accounting for 2.6%; secondary headaches ranked second, accounting for 2.2%; and only 1% had current migraine.
Our data indicate female sex and younger age as risk factors for headache, and associate migraine and secondary headaches with hypertension, tension-type headaches and secondary headaches with diabetes, and tension-type headaches with myocardial ischemia.