CMSC 2012: Hispanic MS Patients Experience More Chronic Migraines

People with MS frequently reported having both episodic and chronic migraines, with Hispanic MS patients experiencing significantly more chronic migraines.

SAN DIEGO — People with multiple sclerosis (MS) frequently report having both episodic and chronic migraines, with Hispanic MS patients experiencing significantly more chronic migraines, according to research presented at the Fourth Cooperative Meeting of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC) and America’s Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS).

Migraines are known to occur more frequently in people with MS, particularly in women, but the impact of racial and ethnic background on migraine characteristics in MS patients has not been reported.

Shirley L. Wang, MD, of LAC Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study involving 233 MS patients treated at University of Southern California outpatient MS clinics regarding the prevalence of headache, migraine type, MS characteristics, and demographic and socioeconomic information to determine whether racial and ethnic background influences the prevalence and/or type of migraine experienced by MS patients.

Overall, 92% of MS patients had relapsing-remitting MS, and 63% had disability scores less than 5.5. The average patient age was 44 years where 67% were female, 46% of patients were white, 37% were Hispanic, 14% were African American, and 3% were other ethnicities. The majority (61%) of MS patients were treated in a private clinic rather than in a county clinic where there was no significant difference in migraine prevalence or type when comparing the different clinic types.

Migraine was the most common headache reported, occurring in 36% of patients overall. Although there was no significant difference in the overall prevalence of migraine between ethnic groups, chronic migraine was significantly more frequently reported by Hispanic than white patients (27% vs. 6%, respectively)(P = .02). Episodic migraines occurred more commonly in white patients compared with Hispanic patients (94% vs. 27% percent, respectively).

“While chronic migraine was more prevalent among Hispanics than non-Hispanic whites with MS, socioeconomic differences or level of disability did not seem to impact this. This difference may reflect cultural differences related to treatment patterns of care and acceptance, with analyses currently under way,” the authors concluded.

Two of the study’s authors disclosed potential conflicts of interest.