Debunking Myths of Migraine’s Role in Dementia: Olivia Begasse de Dhaem, MD, FAHS


The headache specialist at Hartford Healthcare Headache Center emphasized the importance of avoiding unnecessary fear surrounding the potential link between migraine and dementia, as current evidence does not strongly support it being a significant risk factor. [WATCH TIME: 2 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 2 minutes

"We don't have strong evidence that migraine is a prominent risk factor for dementia. Fear is not productive; rational decision-making is crucial. We should avoid unnecessary scaremongering and have more research conducted to assess its role. Thus, the suggested retrospective cohort study could provide insights into the potential association between early-life migraines and later-life dementia."

Migraine affects all ages and Alzheimer disease (AD) is prevalent mostly among older adults, but both are common neurological disorders. Some studies link migraine to dementia as the associations could involve vascular issues, amyloid plaque formation, inflammation, and structural brain changes. Despite the possibility that vascular aspects of migraine might contribute to dementia risk, there are unclear temporal connections in previous studies that warrant larger and longer investigations.1

At the 2023 American Headache Society (AHS) Annual Meeting, June 15-18, in Austin, Texas, Olivia Begasse de Dhaem, MD, FAHS, participated in a debate on whether migraine is a risk factor for dementia or not. Begasse De Dhaem presented the argument that migraine is not a risk factor for dementia while Richard B. Lipton, MD, director of the Montefiore Headache Center, presented the counterpoint of the discussion.2

Begasse De Dhaem sat down in an interview with NeurologyLive® at the meeting to talk about how the potential link between migraine and dementia should be approached, considering the current level of evidence. She also spoke about the significance of Lipton's proposed retrospective cohort study in understanding the migraine-dementia connection. Additionally, she provided details about her newly released book "Headache: What Do I Do Now?" she coedited and its relevance in headache diagnosis and management.

Click here for more coverage of AHS 2023.

1. Islamoska S, Hansen ÅM, Wang HX, et al. Mid- to late-life migraine diagnoses and risk of dementia: a national register-based follow-up study. J Headache Pain. 2020;21(1):98. Published 2020 Aug 6. doi:10.1186/s10194-020-01166-7
2. Begasse De Dhaem O. Migraine is not a Risk Factor for Dementia. Presented at: AHS Annual Meeting, 2023; June 15-18; Austin, TX.
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