Headache disorders (including migraines and tension-type headaches) were the most common neurological conditions in India in 2019, affecting 488 million people, establishing the first comprehensive estimates of the burden of disease from neurological disease in India.

The paper, entitled “The Burden of Neurological Disorders in the States of India: The Global Burden of Disease Study 1990-2019,” was published on Wednesday (July 14) by the India State-Level Disease Burden Initiative in The Lancet Global Health.

According to the paper, the DALY (Disability-Adjusted Life Years) contribution of migraines to the DALYs of the total neurological disorder between the two types of headache disorders was much higher than that of the tension headache. In 2019, the prevalence of migraines in women aged 35-59 was higher than that in men of the same age. The prevalence increased with age, peaking around ages 40 to 44, followed by a gradual decline in both women and men, according to the paper.

“The fluctuations in the raw DALY rate of headache disorders were minimal across states in 2019. The crude prevalence and DALY rate of headache disorders correlated strongly and significantly positively with the socio-demographic index (SDI) of the states, but the age standardized rates had no significant correlation, ”the paper emphasized.

The raw prevalence and DALY rate of headache disorders increased in India from 1990 to 2019, but there was no significant change in the age-standardized prevalence.

Pramod Kumar Pal, professor of neurology in Nimhans who is one of the authors of this analysis of the neurological burden of disease, said headache disorders are the most common neurological disorders after a stroke. While the contribution of stroke to the overall neurological disorder DALY is highest in India at 37.9%, headache disorders follow at 17.5%, he said.

Of the 488 million people found to have headaches, 213 million people have migraines and 374 million tension-type headaches, according to the paper. Dr. Pal said the numbers could be even higher as headaches are often not reported.

“Classic migraines generally tend to go away with age, and migraines don’t usually recur after 50 years. New headaches in the elderly indicate a much more serious condition and need to be evaluated to rule out tumors and other neurological problems, ”said Dr. Pal.

“Also, migraines and tension-type headaches, eye strain headaches, anxiety, depression and cervical spondylolysis are worrying. All of them affect productivity and need to be studied regardless of age. These are not considered in this article, ”he said.

The contribution of non-communicable neurological disorders to total DALYs from all causes in India doubled from 4% in 1990 to 8.2% in 2019, while the contribution of communicable neurological disorders from 4.1% in 1990 to 1, 1% decrease in 2019 Neurological disorders accounted for 0.6% of the total DALYs in 2019, compared with 0.2% in 1990. The proportion of all neurological disorders (combination of communicable, non-communicable and injury-related disorders) in the total DALYs changed in India slightly from 8.3% in 1990 to 9.9% in 2019, explained Dr. Pal.

NK Venkataramana, Chairman and Director Neurosciences at Brains Hospital, said that while headache disorders have been one of the most common neurological problems for several years, we don’t have reliable data yet. “This study brought to light the interesting and alarming facts that headaches have been experienced by millions of people and have increased steadily over the decade,” he said.

The most common reasons for the increase in headaches and migraines in women are stress, pollution, and lifestyle. Over the past decade there has been a phenomenal increase in women’s empowerment, but at the same time work-related stress, duplication of responsibility, poor eating habits, social habits such as smoking, all of which have contributed to the increase in migraine headaches in women, especially in the most productive age group , he added.