Many suffer with Bachmann-type migraines

July 21, 2011 at 12:31 PM
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BURLINGTON, Vt., July 21 (UPI) -- GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann's migraine disclosure puts her in good company with U.S. presidents and voters, a migraine expert says.

Dr. Robert Shapiro, a University of Vermont professor of neurology, says several distinguished U.S. presidents, including Ulysses Grant and possibly Thomas Jefferson, experienced severe migraine attacks during their terms in office.

Shapiro, directer of the Headache Clinic at Fletcher Allen Health Care, who suffers from migraine himself, says this year, nearly one in five Americans will experience some form of migraine attack and one in 25 will have headaches lasting at least 15 days per month.

"Available migraine therapies are few in number and often limited in effectiveness and tolerability," Shapiro says in a statement.

"Over the past 49 years, only one innovative drug, discovered and developed specifically for migraine treatment and given priority review by the Food and Drug Administration has been approved for clinical use."

Shapiro says federally-funded migraine research totaled only $15 million in 2010, but several studies estimate annual U.S. migraine-associated direct healthcare costs at $11 billion with $20 billion in indirect costs related to missed work, reduced productivity, etc.

Dr. Brian Monahan, the attending physician in Congress, said in a written statement released by the Minnesota congresswoman's office that her migraine headaches "occur infrequently" and are avoidable, the Hill reported.

"Your migraines occur infrequently and have known trigger factors of which you are aware and know how to avoid," Monahan wrote.

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