Enough. It’s time to prevent migraine.

  • Migraine is more than just a bad headache. It is a complex neurological condition the burden of which extends to the family, social relationships and work and consequently affects the quality of life.
  • The largest global migraine patient study has revealed that people with severe migraine headaches miss, on average, 4.6 working days per month.1
  • Migraine often occurs during peak productive years, between the ages of 35 and 45.2 Migraine prevention is therefore very important as it has a positive impact on the quality of professional and private life of people with severe migraines. 
25. 9. 2019

The World Health Organisation (WHO) ranks migraine as the sixth most disabling illness in the world.3 As many as 90 percent of people with migraine report that they are not able to work or carry out everyday tasks during a migraine attack.3 However, it is estimated that despite this, less than 50% of people with migraine consult a physician.4 This was a discussion topic at the event entitled »Enough. It’s time to stop migraine.«, organized by Novartis. The participants appealed to those with migraine without proper treatment to visit their physician or neurologist. 

»We have to realise that migraine is not just a headache. It is a complex neurological condition that, with all its associated symptoms, profoundly impacts the lives of patients and their relationships with family members, friends and colleagues at work. For this reason it is very important that patients, especially those with multiple migraine days per month, are appropriately managed by a neurologist,« explained Associate Professor Andrej Fabjan, MD PhD, specialist neurologist from the Neurology Clinic, University Medical Center Ljubljana and Institute of Physiology at the Medical Faculty Ljubljana.

Migraine includes recurrent attacks of moderate to severe head pain that is typically pulsating, often unilateral and associated with nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light, sound and odours.5 At times, mood changes (especially depression), impaired concentration and fatigue can occur before and after an actual migraine attack. Migraine is associated with psychological distress, disability, reduced quality of life and is a financial burden for  society. It has a profound and detrimental impact on an individual’s ability to carry out everyday tasks.6

»Although seemingly acting as an invisible disease, migraine is the second leading neurological cause for years lived with disability. Migraine remains under-recognised and under-treated, despite the fact that in the EU the estimated total annual cost is in the region of EUR 111 billion. Migraine is a hereditary brain disorder with a 12% global prevalence, affecting all age groups, however predominantly females,« explained Prof. Patricia Pozo Rosich, specialist neurologist, head of the Headaches & Craniofacial Pain clinical unit at the Vall d'Hebron University Hospital in Barcelona.

»But you only have a headache.«

Despite growing awareness, many patients still say they feel judged, stigmatized or misunderstood, illustrating the need for awareness and support. They describe that their closest ones and work colleagues often see their migraine as a slightly stronger headache and cannot understand why they cannot carry out their tasks. 

The European Migraine and Headache Alliance and Novartis have recently carried out the largest ever global study of people living with migraine (My Migraine Voice), involving more than 11,000 people who had at least four migraine days per month, from 31 countries. The findings revealed that migraine cuts work productivity by about half. On average, 60% of employed respondents missed almost a full working week (4.6 days) due to migraine in the last month.1

Despite the devastating impact of migraine, employed respondents shared that although the majority of their employers (63%) knew about their migraine, only 18% offered support.1    

The findings were presented at the 60th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Headache Society (AHS) in San Francisco.1  

If you suffer from migraine, visit a neurologist

Migraine most often begins at puberty but has the greatest impact during peak productive years, between the ages of 35 and 45.2 Migraine prevention is therefore very important as it has a positive impact on the quality of professional and private life of people with severe migraines. Data show that migraine has a negative effect on time spent with family and friends, that it affects mutual relationships and that suffering depression is almost twice as common among those with migraine   than among those without this debilitating condition.7 

Despite the fact that migraine is more common than diabetes, epilepsy and asthma together, it is still under- recognised and under-diagnosed. Less than half of migraine patients consult a physician about their problem and less than half are satisfied with their existing therapy. Most patients decide to use self-treatment.4 

Therefore, experts urge people with migraine, particularly those with multiple severe migraine days per month, to visit a neurologist and discuss treatment options. New therapies can effectively block the so-called CGRP receptor that plays one of the crucial roles in the development of migraine symptoms.  

»After years of research and development, the researchers have developed a new preventative migraine treatment in the form of a monoclonal antibody designed specifically to bind to a gene related peptide receptor (CGRP), which plays a critical role in migraine. The new migraine treatment was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Although there were no major safety risks reported in clinical trials we are aware that its safety and effectiveness will have to be monitored in a real-world situation. Our aim, as physicians, is to help our patients improve the quality of their lives and minimise the burden caused by migraine,« said Prof. dr. Patricia Pozo Rosich.


  1. 1.https://www.novartis.com/news/media-releases/novartis-international-ag-global-study-novartis-and-european-migraine-and-headache-alliance-reveals-60-employed-people-severe-migraine-miss-average-week-work: Accessed: September 2019
  2. 2.https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/headache-disorders. Accessed: September 2019.
  3. 3.https://migraineresearchfoundation.org/about-migraine/migraine-facts/. Accessed: September 2019
  4. 4.https://www.migrainetrust.org/about-migraine/migraine-what-is-it/facts-figures. Accessed: September 2019.
  5. 5.Nacionalni inštitut za nevrološka obolenja in možgansko kap. Podatki o migreni. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Migraine-Information-Page. Accessed: September 2019
  6. 6.https://www.novartis.com/news/media-releases/novartis-marks-new-era-migraine-patients-eu-approval-aimovig-first-its-kind-treatment-specifically-designed-migraine-prevention. Accessed: September 2019
  7. 7.R. Lipton in sod. The family impact of migraine: population-based studies in the USA and UK. Cephalalgia, vol. 23, no. 6, pp. 429-440, Jul 2003. 

Information prepared: September 2019. R11909737636

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