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Men may fare better than women in migraine and chronic headache after hospitalization

Pearl Toh
26 Feb 2017

Men were more likely to have better outcome than women among those who had been hospitalized for migraine or chronic tension type headache (CTTH), suggests a study presented at the Association of South-East Asian Pain Societies Congress 2017 (ASEAPS 2017) held in Yangon, Myanmar.

“Migraine and CTTH [are] often associated with limitations in daily activities, employment, education, and social life,” according to the researchers from the Department of Neurology at University of Sumatera Utara in Medan, Indonesia.

Among 34 patients hospitalized with CTTH, a greater proportion of male patients had better outcome than female patients: eight males (80 percent) had better outcome and two males (20 percent) had worse outcome, whereas five female patients (20.8 percent) had better outcome and 19 females (79.2 percent) had worse outcome. [ASEAPS 2017, abstract 18]

Male patients with CTTH were almost four times more likely than female patients to have better outcome after being admitted to the hospital for CTTH (relative risk [RR], 3.84; p=0.002].

Similarly for migraine, male patients were more than three times as likely as female patients to fare better after hospitalization (RR, 3.5; p=0.03), with 66.7 percent of males having better outcomes compared with 19 percent of females having worse outcome (total patients analysed: 9 males, 21 females).

“Sex hormones are … well-known in affecting the peripheral and central pain transmission,” said the researchers, suggesting a mechanism behind the association between gender and CTTH or migraine.

Meanwhile, ethnicity (Malay, Chinese, or Indian) was not significantly associated with outcome in CTTH (p=0.876) and migraine (p=0.530).

The cross-sectional study included 64 patients with migraine or CTTH who were admitted to the Adam Malik General Hospital Medan in Indonesia. Headache was defined according to the International Headache Society Classification System. Outcome was assessed using Migraine Disability Assessment and the six-item Headache Impact Test questionnaires for headache-related disability and Visual Analogue Scale for headache pain.  

 

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