Back to Journals » Journal of Pain Research » Volume 11

To what extent are patients with migraine able to predict attacks?

Authors Gago-Veiga AB, Pagán J, Henares K, Heredia P, González-García N, De Orbe MI, Ayala JL, Sobrado M, Vivancos J

Received 29 May 2018

Accepted for publication 10 July 2018

Published 27 September 2018 Volume 2018:11 Pages 2083—2094


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr E Alfonso Romero-Sandoval

Ana B Gago-Veiga,1 Josué Pagán,2,3 Kevin Henares,2,4 Patricia Heredia,1 Nuria González-García,5 María-Irene De Orbe,4 Jose L Ayala,3,4 Mónica Sobrado,1 Jose Vivancos1

1Headache Unit, Department of Neurology, Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria Hospital, Universitario de la Princesa, Madrid, Spain; 2Department of Electronic Engineering, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Madrid, Spain; 3Center for Computational Simulation, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Madrid, Spain; 4Department of Computer and Automation Architecture, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain; 5Headache Unit, Hospital Clínico Universitario San Carlos, Madrid, Spain

Purpose: Premonitory symptoms (PSs) of migraine are those that precede pain in a migraine attack. Previous studies suggest that treatment during this phase may prevent the onset of pain; however, this approach requires that patients be able to recognize their PSs. Our objectives were to evaluate patients’ actual ability to predict migraine attacks based on their PSs and analyze whether good predictors meet any characteristic profile.
Patients and methods: This prospective, observational study included patients with migraine with and without aura. Patients’ baseline characteristics were recorded. During a 2-month follow-up period, patients used a mobile application to record what they believed to be PSs and later to record the onset of pain, if this occurred. When a migraine attack ended, patients had to complete a form on the characteristics of the episode (including the presence of PSs not identified prior to the attack).
Results: Fifty patients were initially selected. A final total of 34 patients were analyzed, recording 229 attacks. Of whom, 158 (69%) were accompanied by PSs and were recorded prior to the pain onset in 63 (27.5%) cases. A total of 67.6% of the patients were able to predict at least one attack, but only 35.3% were good predictors (>50% of attacks). There were only 11 cases in which a patient erroneously reported their PSs (positive predictive value: 85.1%). Good predictors were not differentiated by any specific clinical characteristic. However, a range of symptoms were particularly predictive; these included photophobia, drowsiness, yawning, increased thirst, and blurred vision.
Conclusion: A large majority of patients with migraine experienced a PS and were able to predict at least one attack. Besides, only a small percentage of patients were considered as good predictors; however, they could not be characterized by any specific profile. Nonetheless, when patients with migraine believed that they were experiencing PSs, they were frequently correct.

Keywords: migraine, premonitory symptoms, prediction, real-time, electronic diary, machine learning

A Letter to the Editor has been received and published for this article.

Creative Commons License This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.

Download Article [PDF]  View Full Text [HTML][Machine readable]