Patients with Migraine at Greater Risk of Developing Parkinson’s

Man with migraine
Man with migraine
Migraineurs had a significantly lower PD-free survival rate compared to controls.

People with migraine may have an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, results from a longitudinal follow-up cohort study indicate.

The large study, conducted by researchers from the National Taiwan University Hospital in Taipei and published in Cephalgia, included 41 019 subjects aged 40 to 90 years with migraine and an equal group of propensity score-matched controls without migraine or Parkinson’s. The researchers aimed to determine whether patients with migraine are at an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s, as previous findings have been inconsistent.

In order to be included in the study, participants had to have had a diagnosis of migraine in at least 2 ambulatory care visits in 2001, and not been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease or secondary Parkinsonism in the year prior. Participants who met these qualifications were score-matched to patients with no migraine diagnoses in 2001 based on age, sex, comorbidity, and socioeconomic status.  

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Over the course of the median 32-month follow-up, 148 patients in the migraine group and 101 patients in the control group were diagnosed with Parkinson’s, with an incidence rate of 1.44 and 1.00 per 1000 person-years, respectively.  The hazard ratio of Parkinson’s for the migraine group was 1.64 (95%CI: 1.25–2.14, P=0.0004) compared to controls, indicating a statistically significant increase in risk of Parkinson’s in the migraine group. Additionally, the Parkinson’s disease-free survival rate was significantly lower in the migraine group compared to controls (P=0.0041).

The authors hypothesized that the “link between migraine and PD may be mediated through a shared pathophysiology mechanism, namely dysfunction of the serotonergic and dopaminergic system. Further studies are needed in order to investigate whether the risk of PD is higher in migraineurs with more pronounced prodromal symptoms.”

The authors also indicated that due to the relatively short follow-up time, the long-term effects of migraine on Parkinson’s development are not known. Despite only showing a temporal association, the authors said the findings indicate a possible role for early risk assessment for Parkinson’s disease in patients with migraine.


Wang HI, Ho YC, Huang YP, Pan SL. Migraine is related to an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease: A population-based, propensity score-matched, longitudinal follow-up study. Cephalalgia. 2016; doi: 10.1177/0333102416630577.