Asthma May Predict Chronic Migraine Onset

Asthma may increase the likelihood of chronic migraines in patients with episodic migraines.

Asthma may increase the likelihood of chronic migraines in patients with episodic migraines.

As a result of these findings, pharmacists may want to start asking patients if they have both migraines and asthma. If so, they can warn patients that the onset of chronic migraine is more likely, lead author Vincent Martin, MD, told Pharmacy Times.

Patients with asthma may want to consider exploring preventative measures for migraines earlier in the course of their disease in order to prevent future onset of chronic migraines, he added.

“Avoid beta-blockers as migraine preventatives, as they may worsen asthma,” Dr. Martin said. “If they have sinus pressure or sinus headaches and hay fever, [pharmacists] may want to treat these symptoms with nasal steroids that have been shown to reduce sinus pressure in these patients.”

The investigators conducted previous research on migraines, hay fever, and allergies, and they considered this study a natural next step into the relationship between asthma and migraines, he maintained.

The University of Cincinnati researchers observed almost 4500 episodic migraine patients in order to test the hypothesis that asthma is a risk factor for the onset of chronic migraines. The patients were included in the study if they experienced fewer than 15 episodic migraines per month in 2008.

Data was gathered using a questionnaire filled out by episodic migraine patients with and without coexisting asthma about medication usage, depression, and smoking status. The questionnaire was repeated in 2009, which the researchers used to determine which patients had progressed from episodic to chronic migraine.

After 1 year, chronic migraine onset occurred in about 5.4% of the patients with asthma compared with 2.5% of the non-asthmatic patients.

The presence of asthma was a stronger predictor for chronic migraine onset (at more than twice as likely) than the presence of depression, which other studies have identified as a chronic migraine onset factor, the researchers said.

These findings were published in Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain.