Epidemiology of Headache Disorders in the Asia-Pacific Region


  • Kuan-Po Peng MD,

    1. Department of Internal Medicine, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taoyuan Branch, Taoyuan, Taiwan
    2. Faculty of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University School of Medicine, Taipei, Taiwan
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  • Shuu-Jiun Wang MD

    Corresponding author
    1. Faculty of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University School of Medicine, Taipei, Taiwan
    2. Department of Neurology, Neurological Institute, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan
    • Address all correspondence to S.-J. Wang, Taipei #201, Shih-Pai Road, Section 2, Taipei 11217, Taiwan.

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  • Conflict of Interest: None.


Headache disorder is a major public health issue and is a great burden for the person, the health care system, and society. This article reviews epidemiological surveys of primary headache disorders including migraine and tension-type headache (TTH) among adults in the Asia-Pacific region using the International Classification of Headache Disorders (ICHD), first or second edition. Chronic daily headache (CDH), which is not an official diagnosis in the ICHD, was also reviewed. In the Asia-Pacific region, the median (range) 1-year prevalence of primary headache disorders was 9.1% (1.5-22.8%) for migraine, 16.2% (10.8-33.8%) for TTH, and 2.9% (1.0-3.9%) for CDH. The 1-year prevalence of migraine and TTH were rather consistent; however, the extremes in the 1-year prevalence of migraine in earlier studies from Hong Kong (1.5%) and South Korea (22.3%) were not repeated in later surveys (Hong Kong: 12.5%; South Korea: 6%). According to the United Nations, the estimated population of the Asia-Pacific region was 3.85 billion in 2010, equaling to headache suffers of 350 million patients with migraine, 624 million with TTH, and 112 million with CDH; many remain to be treated. The prevalence of headache disorders has remained stable over the last 2 decades in this region, where the diversity of geography, race, and development is wide. Thus, the pursuit of better headache care in this region might be our next challenge.