Migraine as a predictor of mortality: The HUNT study

Cephalalgia. 2016 Apr;36(4):351-7. doi: 10.1177/0333102415593090. Epub 2015 Jun 26.


Background: There is conflicting evidence for the association between migraine and increased mortality risk. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between migraine and non-migrainous headache, and all-cause mortality and cardiovascular mortality.

Methods: In this prospective population-based cohort study from Norway, we used baseline data from the second Nord-Trøndelag Health Survey (HUNT2), performed between 1995 and 1997 in the County of Nord-Trøndelag. These data were linked with a comprehensive mortality database with follow-up through the year 2011. A total of 51,853 (56% of invited) people were categorized based on their answers to the headache questions in HUNT2 (headache free, migraine or non-migrainous headache). Hazard ratios (HRs) of mortality during a mean of 14.1 years of follow-up were estimated using Cox regression.

Results: During the follow-up period 9408 died, 4321 of these from cardiovascular causes. There was no difference in all-cause mortality between individuals with migraine and non-migrainous headache compared to those without headache or between headache status and mortality by cardiovascular disease. There was, however, among men with migraine without aura a reduced risk of death by cardiovascular diseases (HR 0.72, 95% confidence interval 0.56-0.93). This relationship was not evident in women.

Conclusion: In this large, prospective cohort study there was no evidence for a higher all-cause mortality or cardiovascular mortality among individuals with migraine.

Keywords: Headache; general population; migraine; mortality.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / complications*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality*
  • Female
  • Headache / mortality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / complications*
  • Migraine Disorders / mortality*
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires