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Neurology. 2006 Sep 26;67(6):1028-33.

Migrainous vertigo: prevalence and impact on quality of life.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology, Robert Koch Institute, Berlin, Germany.



To investigate the epidemiology of migrainous vertigo (MV) in the general population by assessing prevalence, clinical features, comorbid conditions, quality of life, and health care utilization.


We screened a representative sample of the adult population in Germany (n = 4,869) for moderate or severe dizziness/vertigo and followed up with validated neurotologic telephone interviews (n = 1,003). Diagnostic criteria for MV were as follows: 1) recurrent vestibular vertigo; 2) migraine according to the International Headache Society; 3) migrainous symptoms during at least two vertiginous attacks (migrainous headache, photophobia, phonophobia, or aura symptoms); and 4) vertigo not attributed to another disorder. In a concurrent validation study (n = 61) the interviews had a sensitivity of 84% and a specificity of 94% for vestibular vertigo and 81% and 100% for migraine.


The lifetime prevalence of MV was 0.98% (95% CI 0.70 to 1.37), the 12-month prevalence 0.89% (95% CI 0.62 to 1.27). Spontaneous rotational vertigo was reported by 67% of participants with MV while 24% had positional vertigo. Twenty-four percent always experienced headaches with their vertigo. Logistic regression analysis comparing participants with MV with dizziness-free migraineurs showed an independent association with coronary heart disease but not with sex, age, migrainous aura, education, stroke, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, body mass index, or depression. Age-adjusted health-related quality of life scores (SF-8 Health Survey) were consistently lower in participants with MV compared to dizziness-free controls. Two thirds of participants with MV had consulted a doctor but only 20% of these were diagnosed with MV.


Migrainous vertigo is relatively common but underdiagnosed in the general population and has considerable personal and healthcare impact.

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