In an 11-year follow-up on individuals with chronic headache, three-quarters experienced remission, and remission was highest for participants without chronic musculoskeletal complaints or medication overuse headaches, according to a recent study published in Cephalalgia.

Between 2 to 5% of adults experience chronic headache, which is defined as ≥ 15 headache days each month for 3 or more months.

In order to estimate the remission rates of participants with chronic headache and to determine predictors of remission, study investigators analyzed data from the Nord-Trøndelag Health (HUNT) Study.


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The HUNT study invited all Nord-Trøndelag inhabitants aged 20 or older to participate in 3 health questionnaire examinations and clinical consultations that included blood samples as well as height, weight, and blood pressure measurements. These 3 examinations/consultations are referred to as HUNT1 (1984-1986), HUNT2 (1995-1997), and HUNT3 (2006 to 2008).

In HUNT2, 51,856 individuals answered the headache questions, and 2.4% (n=1266) reported chronic headache. Of these chronic headache participants, only 48% (n=605) responded to the headache questions in HUNT3.

Chronic headache remission (<15 headaches a month) was observed in 74.7% (n=452) of the 605 HUNT3 responders. Remission rates were almost identical between men and women, but were higher among individuals who did not report experiencing chronic musculoskeletal complaints (86.6% vs 71.1, P <.001) or medication overuse headaches (81.5% vs 65.4, P <.001) in HUNT2.

Study investigators conclude that “The present results may be of relevance for the ongoing debate about pathophysiology of chronic headache.”

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Reference

Hagen K, Kristoffersen ES, Winsvold BS, Stovner LJ, Zwart JA.Remission of chronic headache: an 11-year follow-up study. Data from the Nord-Trøndelag Health Surveys 1995–1997 and 2006–2008 [published online January 1, 2018]. Cephalalgia. doi: 10.1177/0333102418769940

This article originally appeared on Neurology Advisor