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Keywords:

  • migraine;
  • predictive factors;
  • prognosis

Background.— Despite its high prevalence, little is known about the clinical course of migraine. Presented here are the findings of a 12-year follow-up study involving patients diagnosed at baseline with frequent episodic migraine.

Objective.— The main objectives were to determine the long-term outcome of patients with frequent episodic migraine and to identify factors predictive of a favorable vs less favorable prognosis.

Methods.— A total of 374 subjects (200 women, 174 men) were selected randomly from a total population of 2812 patients initially diagnosed before December 31, 1996, with episodic migraine and at baseline experiencing 1 to 6 attacks per month. Their subsequent migraine course was evaluated via telephone interviews conducted between 2005 and 2006.

Results.— Migraine attacks had ceased in 110 (29%) of the 374 patients (57 women and 53 men). The remaining 264 subjects continued to experience migraine attacks at follow-up, and a change in attack frequency was reported by 80% (of whom 80% reported fewer attacks). Sixty-six percent reported a change in pain intensity over time, and of these 83% reported milder pain. Only 6 subjects (6/374 = 1.6%) had developed chronic migraine.

Conclusion.— These data from a headache clinic population suggest that migraine has a favorable prognosis in most patients. Whether the findings reflect the natural history of the disorder or interval improvements in headache management remains conjectural.