New Diagnoses of Migraines Associated With Increased Risk of Accidents, Study Shows

In Education

Researchers from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus have identified a worrisome association between new migraine diagnoses in older adults and an elevated risk of car accidents.

Individuals newly diagnosed with migraines at risk of accidents

According to their findings, individuals over 65 who recently developed migraines were three times more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle crash compared to those without migraines. Notably, individuals with a long history of migraines did not exhibit an increased accident risk.

A study led by Carolyn DiGuiseppi, MPH, PhD, MD, a professor at the Colorado School of Public Health, reveals that over 7% of U.S. adults aged 60 and above are affected by migraine headaches. DiGuiseppi said that as the U.S. population ages, a growing number of older adult drivers may experience previously unfamiliar migraine symptoms, such as sleepiness, reduced concentration, dizziness, and severe head pain, potentially impacting their driving abilities.

The research monitored 2,500 drivers aged 65-79 across five locations in the US for five years, classifying them into three groups: those with prior migraines, those with new-onset migraines during the study, and those without migraines.

Their findings indicate that individuals with newly diagnosed migraines had a higher probability of experiencing a crash within a year, while those with a pre-existing migraine history did not show an increased accident risk. Additionally, participants with migraine history tended to engage in frequent hard braking compared to those without migraines.

Migraine medications do not change driving related risks

The study explored the impact of commonly prescribed migraine medications on driving safety and found that these medications did not alter the correlation between migraines and driving-related risks. It is crucial to highlight that only a limited number of study participants were using acute migraine medications.

The findings suggest significant implications for the safety of older patients, prompting the need for attention. DiGuiseppi recommends that individuals newly diagnosed with migraines should discuss driving safety with their healthcare providers, emphasizing caution regarding potential risks like distracted driving, alcohol consumption, pain medication, and other factors impacting driving.

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