Natural disasters may lead to greater incidence of migraines among victims, study says

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Following the 2018 Japan Floods, researchers discovered a rise in prescriptions for acute bouts of migraine among victims living in the hardest hit areas of Japan, suggesting that natural disasters may cause more people to suffer from migraines.

The study, published in the journal, Headache, was led by Yuji Okazaki, MD, of the Department of Community-Based Medical Systems, Graduate School of Biomedical and Health Sciences at Hiroshima University in Hiroshima, Japan. The study sought to better understand the impact of the 2018 Japan Floods, one of the most severe water disasters in Japan, on the prevalence of migraines.

The study’s researchers conducted a retrospective longitudinal cohort study using the National Database of Health Insurance Claims in areas impacted the most by the flooding. The study’s subjects were between 15 and 64 years old. Researchers grouped the subjects into a victim group and a nonvictim group. Researchers then analyzed the prescriptions of triptans and ergotamine, acute treatment for migraines, one year before the natural disaster, and one year after.

The results showed that of the 3,475,515 people studied, 16,103 qualified as victims. The study found that victims of the disaster were significantly more likely to get new prescriptions for migraine medication than nonvictims.

“The study suggests that a natural disaster caused or exacerbated acute migraine attacks among victims,” said study co-author Masatoshi Matsumoto, PhD, a professor from the Department of Community-Based Medical Systems at Hiroshima University’s Graduate School of Biomedical and Health Sciences.