Association between migraine and asthma: matched case-control study

Davey, Gail, Sedgwick, Philip, Maier, Will, Visick, George, Strachan, David P and Anderson, H Ross (2002) Association between migraine and asthma: matched case-control study. British Journal of General Practice, 52 (482). pp. 723-727. ISSN 0960-1643

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Earlier studies have suggested a link between asthma and severe headache, and also between migraine and wheezing illness. Recent analysis have also shown an increase of asthma among cases with a prior history of migraine but without a history of hay fever, allergic rhinitis or eczema.


To examine whether there is an association between migraine and asthma in the United Kingdom.


Matched case-control study using the General Practice Research Database (GPRD).


Practices in the United Kingdom providing data on 5,110,619 patients to the GPRD.


The subjects were the patients with one or more diagnoses of migraine plus treatment for migraine. Each case was matched by general practice, sex, and age, with one control who had never been given a diagnosis of migraine. Case and control groups were compared for prevalence of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, respiratory symptoms treated with inhalers or hay fever. Investigations were carried out to determine whether the association between migraine and asthma was stronger among patients with hayfever or those without hayfever, and whether patients with migraine had an increased prescription of other (non-migraine and non-asthma) medications.


Among 64 678 case-control pairs, the relative risk of asthma in patients with migraine was 1.59 (95% CI = 1.54 to 1.65) among definite cases, and 0.75 (95% CI = 0.67 to 0.83) among those whose selection as case included beta-blocker prophylaxis. Among definite migraine cases, relative risks of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, respiratory symptoms, eczema, and hay fever (pollinosis), were all raised (at 1.22, 1.85, 1.55, and 1.67, respectively). The association between migraine and asthma was stronger in patients without a diagnosis of hay fever, than in those with hayfever (relative risk = 1.32 and 1.19, respectively). The relative risk of prescription for a range of non-migraine, non-asthma medications was raised, the exception being anti-diabetic medication.


This large case-control study provides evidence for an association between migraine and asthma. Frequent attendance at a general practice surgery may confound this association. However, if the association is real, its elucidation may help the understanding of disease mechanisms shared by migraine and asthma.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Global Health and Infection
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0251 Constitutional diseases (General)
Depositing User: Gail Davey
Date Deposited: 09 Jun 2014 13:04
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2017 17:48
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