Objective To evaluate the association between migraine and cognitive decline among women.
Design Prospective cohort study.
Setting Women’s Health Study, United States.
Participants 6349 women aged 65 or older enrolled in the Women’s Health Study who provided information about migraine status at baseline and participated in cognitive testing during follow-up. Participants were classified into four groups: no history of migraine, migraine with aura, migraine without aura, and past history of migraine (reports of migraine history but no migraine in the year prior to baseline).
Main outcome measures Cognitive testing was carried out at two year intervals up to three times using the telephone interview for cognitive status, immediate and delayed recall trials of the east Boston memory test, delayed recall trial of the telephone interview for cognitive status 10 word list, and a category fluency test. All tests were combined into a global cognitive score, and tests assessing verbal memory were combined to create a verbal memory score.
Results Of the 6349 women, 853 (13.4%) reported any migraine; of these, 195 (22.9%) reported migraine with aura, 248 (29.1%) migraine without aura, and 410 (48.1%) a past history of migraine. Compared with women with no history of migraine, those who experienced migraine with or without aura or had a past history of migraine did not have significantly different rates of cognitive decline in any of the cognitive scores: values for the rate of change of the global cognitive score between baseline and the last observation ranged from −0.01 (SE 0.04) for past history of migraine to 0.08 (SE 0.04) for migraine with aura when compared with women without any history of migraine. Women who experienced migraine were also not at increased risk of substantial cognitive decline (worst 10% of the distribution of decline). When compared with women without a history of migraine, the relative risks for the global score ranged from 0.77 (95% confidence interval 0.46 to 1.28) for women with migraine without aura to 1.17 (0.84 to 1.63) for women with a past history of migraine.
Conclusion In this prospective cohort of women, migraine status was not associated with faster rates of cognitive decline.