When Roger Cady, MD, Vice President of Neurology at Lundbeck, first began his career as a headache specialist in the 1980s, migraine care looked very different than it does today. There were fewer treatment options available then, and the medical field’s understanding of the underlying cause of migraine disease was more limited, he explains. Dr. Cady’s own mother experienced misdiagnosis and undertreatment of her migraine disease through much of her life.
Today, Dr. Cady says, we understand that migraine is a neurological disorder related to hypersensitive neurons in the central nervous system1. And we know that some people become more prone to migraine over time, with occasional migraine giving way to more and more frequent attacks. In fact, studies estimate about 2.5 percent of people with episodic migraine transition to chronic migraine each year2. (Chronic migraine is defined as headache occurring on 15 or more days per month for three or more months, with at least eight headache days per month having the features of migraine headache3.) It is thought that frequent attacks may sensitize the nervous system so that it becomes more prone to chronic migraine4.
That is why proper diagnosis and a focus on prevention – stopping migraine attacks before they start – is so important, Dr. Cady says. In this video, he discusses how understanding of migraine has evolved and why advances in preventive therapy offer hope for people experiencing frequent migraine.
1. American Migraine Foundation. “What is Migraine?” https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/what-is-migraine/. Accessed 2/28/2020.
2. American Migraine Foundation. “Chronic Migraine.” https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/chronic-migraine/ Accessed 2/28/2020.
3. International Classification of Headache Disorders 3rd edition. https://ichd-3.org/1-migraine/1-3-chronic-migraine/. Accessed 2/28/2020.
4. Bigal M, Lipton R. Modifiable Risk Factors for Migraine Progression. Headache 2006;46:1334-1343.