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Study Finds A Relationship Between Migraines and Income

Update Date: Aug 28, 2013 03:59 PM EDT

In a new study, researchers examined the role of migraines in people of different financial statuses. The research team's goal was to determine how migraines developed and how they were tied to people's education levels and career achievements. Migraines can be extremely painful and led to a reduction in cognitive performance. Based from the findings, the researchers found that migraines appeared to be more frequent in people of lower incomes. The researchers, however, did not determine if migraines led to lower incomes or if lower incomes led to the development of these migraines.

"If the stresses of low income were the sole determinant, we would expect low-income people to be less likely to stop having migraines," the study's author, Walter F. Stewart, Ph.D. said. Stewart works with Sutter Health, a not-for-profit health system located in Northern California. "It's possible the start of the disease may have a different cause than the stopping of the disease."

For this study, the researchers looked at 162,705 people who were 12-years-old and older. These participants gave information about their migraine symptoms, when they started and how much the household income was. A low household income was defined as less than $22,500 annually.  A high household income was above $60,000 per year.

The researcher found that people with more migraines were also from households with lower incomes. For women participants between the ages of 25 and 34, one-fifth of the people from a high-income household had migraines in comparison to the 37 percent of the women in low-income households who had migraines. For women who were from middle-income households, the rate of migraines was 29 percent. For men in the same age range, the rates were five, eight, and 13 percent for high-income, middle-income and low-income respectively. The researchers noted that the trends remained the same even after they took race, age, sex and other variables into account.

The study was published in Neurology and it was funded by the National Headache Foundation

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