Migrainous vertigo: prevalence and impact on quality of life

H K Neuhauser, A Radtke, M von Brevern, M Feldmann, F Lezius, T Ziese, T Lempert
Neurology 2006 September 26, 67 (6): 1028-33

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the epidemiology of migrainous vertigo (MV) in the general population by assessing prevalence, clinical features, comorbid conditions, quality of life, and health care utilization.

METHODS: We screened a representative sample of the adult population in Germany (n = 4,869) for moderate or severe dizziness/vertigo and followed up with validated neurotologic telephone interviews (n = 1,003). Diagnostic criteria for MV were as follows: 1) recurrent vestibular vertigo; 2) migraine according to the International Headache Society; 3) migrainous symptoms during at least two vertiginous attacks (migrainous headache, photophobia, phonophobia, or aura symptoms); and 4) vertigo not attributed to another disorder. In a concurrent validation study (n = 61) the interviews had a sensitivity of 84% and a specificity of 94% for vestibular vertigo and 81% and 100% for migraine.

RESULTS: The lifetime prevalence of MV was 0.98% (95% CI 0.70 to 1.37), the 12-month prevalence 0.89% (95% CI 0.62 to 1.27). Spontaneous rotational vertigo was reported by 67% of participants with MV while 24% had positional vertigo. Twenty-four percent always experienced headaches with their vertigo. Logistic regression analysis comparing participants with MV with dizziness-free migraineurs showed an independent association with coronary heart disease but not with sex, age, migrainous aura, education, stroke, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, body mass index, or depression. Age-adjusted health-related quality of life scores (SF-8 Health Survey) were consistently lower in participants with MV compared to dizziness-free controls. Two thirds of participants with MV had consulted a doctor but only 20% of these were diagnosed with MV.

CONCLUSIONS: Migrainous vertigo is relatively common but underdiagnosed in the general population and has considerable personal and healthcare impact.

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