The migraine is the neurological disease with the highest prevalence in Spain – affects about 5 million people – and according to the 2016 Global Burden of Disease Survey, worldwide, it is the sixth most prevalent disorder, the second cause of disability – the first in people under 50 years of age -, and one of the five main causes of years of life lived with disability.
In Spain, 80% of people with this disease are women, generally in ages between 20 and 40 years. They suffer a longer duration and intensity of pain in crises, a higher risk of recurrence, greater disability and, at the same time, they need a longer period of time to recover. In our country, migraine is the second cause of disability in women.
“In any case, migraine affects both men and women of all ages, although it is not common for the first symptoms to appear after 50 years. Due to the fact that it is a disease whose highest prevalence occurs in the productive age, the estimates of its cost to society, mainly due to the loss of working hours and the reduction in productivity, are considerable, “says Dr. Sonia Santos, Coordinator of the Headache Study Group of the Spanish Neurology Society (SEN).
In 2018, it was estimated that, in Spain, the socio-health expenditure of this disease per patient and year amounted to almost 13,000 euros in the case of people suffering from chronic migraine (more than 15 days of headache per month) and more 5,000 euros for patients with episodic migraine.
More than 70% of people with migraine have a severe disability, which is greater when the patient suffers from chronic migraine. In Spain, 1.5 million people suffer from chronic migraine and, approximately, a year, 3% of patients with episodic migraine go on to suffer from a chronic type. Furthermore, in Spain, in 75% of people with migraine, the diagnostic delay is greater than 2 years.
About 50% of patients self-medicate with painkillers Without a prescription, more than 40% are still undiagnosed and at least 25% of patients have never consulted their doctor for their ailment, according to data from the SEN.
«In addition to the headache caused by migraine, which has a great impact on the daily functioning of people who suffer from it, its association with mood disorders», Says Dr. Sonia Santos. “Properly diagnosing this disease is essential to improve the quality of life of people suffering from the disease and to prevent the disease from becoming more serious, since, with proper treatment, all patients are susceptible to improvement.”
In addition, according to the survey ‘Knowledge and perception of Migraine among the Spanish population’, promoted by Lilly, carried out online to 1,000 people in Spain, periods of stress associated with work (85%) or study (78%) are they position themselves as the situations most closely linked to migraine episodes. In addition, 80% of the surveyed population agrees that migraine has a negative impact on the quality of life of the patient, mainly affecting the workplace, followed by personal / social.
Specifically, the general population considers that the work environment can be counterproductive for patients, with ambient noise being the factor that has the greatest impact on patients; However, it downplays other equally relevant aspects and triggers of migraine at work, such as stress, lack of breaks, poor lighting or continued use of screens.
In addition to these conclusions, approximately 9 out of 10 interviewees consider that companies must take into account the special needs of people with migraine when designing the workspace. These data show the importance of an adequate and healthy work environment for the prevention of migraine.
Although migraine is a difficult disease to manage in terms of treatments, since not all work with the same effectiveness in all patients and also require periodic adjustments, there are various drugs both for the symptomatic treatment of migraine, and to prevent the appearance of new attacks. New treatment options have recently been approved: monoclonal antibodies. However, and according to data from the latest study carried out by the SEN Headache Study Group, in Spain, only 17% of patients use the correct medication for the symptomatic treatment of migraine attacks and only 5% of patients receive preventive treatment, despite the fact that approximately 25% need it.
«In general, we can affirm that the preventive treatment of migraine is underused and that adherence to current treatments is low. Furthermore, we estimate that at least 50% of patients who see a doctor drop out of follow-up and that 25% (the percentage is higher in the case of people with chronic migraine) discontinue their treatment. Raising public awareness about the impact of this disease and the importance of being treated and diagnosed correctly is the first step to take to fight migraine headaches, ”explains Dr. Sonia Santos.
The specialist points out that, although in recent months doubts have arisen about the possibility that some of the drugs that are usually used in the treatment of migraine can facilitate infection by Covid-19, “There is no scientific evidence in this regard, so patients should continue with their usual treatment.”