Factors for Migraine Chronification: Obesity

I recently introduced a series of articles about factors thought to contribute to the transformation of an episodic migraine to a chronic migraine (15 or more days a month). Today I’m breaking down one of the factors, obesity.

The precise relationship between body mass index (BMI) and transformation to a chronic migraine is not clear, but multiple studies have demonstrated that people with BMIs in the overweight and obese ranges are more likely to experience a chronic migraine than their average weight counterparts who live with migraine disease.

Researchers speculate the inflammatory state present in obese individuals may be a key factor in the relationship between high BMI and migraine chronification. Additionally, calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) levels are often elevated in obese patients. This may be significant because CGRP is released in the brain during a migraine attack and release of higher amounts of this substance could be a cause of the transformation from episodic to a chronic migraine among patients with higher BMIs.

Although obesity is considered a modifiable risk factor because it can be improved through diet and exercise, we do not know at this time whether weight loss leads to a reduction in migraine frequency once a patient has started experiencing chronic migraine. Given that maintaining a healthy body weight is important for so many reasons, however, patients are encouraged to do their best to work toward weight loss if they are overweight or to maintain a healthy weight if they currently have an average BMI.

Researchers also encourage doctors to avoid prescribing preventive medications known to often cause weight gain for patients who are already overweight or obese.

Modifiable Risk Factors for Migraine Progression
Defining the Difference Between Episodic and Chronic Migraine
Tracing Transformation: Chronic MIgraine Classification, Progression, and Epidemiology
Possible Genetic Explanation for Migraine

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DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site constitutes medical or legal advice. I am a patient who is engaged and educated and enjoys sharing my experiences and news about migraines, pain, and depression. Please consult your own health care providers for advice on your unique situation.