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Biol Aujourdhui. 2019;213(1-2):35-41. doi: 10.1051/jbio/2019019. Epub 2019 Jul 5.

[Migraine epidemiological, clinical and therapeutic data].

[Article in French]

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Centre d'Urgence des Céphalées, AP-HP, Hôpital Lariboisière, 75010 Paris, France.


Burden of disease study ranks headache disorders as the second leading cause of years lived with disability worldwide. Migraine has an estimated prevalence of 10 to 14% and is therefore the most common neurological pathology. It concerns young populations, with a female/male ratio of 3/1, and its impact in economic terms is mainly related to indirect costs. Migraine can be episodic or chronic depending on the frequency of headache days (≥ 15 days per month). The diagnosis of migraine is made according to international criteria, which are easy to use, with essential questions to be asked to patients in a logical order and structure. The migraine is explained by an activation of the so-called trigeminocervical system, with release of neuromediators participating in neurogenic inflammation and activation of second-order neurons. Migraine with aura is manifested by neurological symptoms, lasting less than 60 minutes, explained by the phenomenon of cortical spreading depression. Visual symptoms are the most commonly described aura event of migraine, other auras include sensory and speech disturbance. Cortical spreading depression is a slowly propagating wave of near-complete depolarization of neurons and glial cells spreading over the cortex at a speed of ∼3-5 mm/min. First-line acute treatment for migraine consists of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), triptans and antiemetics. Patients with frequent or chronic headaches warrant prophylactic therapy. Various classes of preventives can be used (β-blockers, tricyclics, antiepileptics), with the choice of therapy tailored to the patient's risk factors and symptoms. In practice, treatment has two axes: NSAID or triptans for crisis treatment and for background treatment prescribed case by case, the first-intention molecules according to the French recommendations are beta-blockers, then, in case of failure, topiramate, oxetorone or amitriptyline.


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