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The impact of migraine and other primary headaches on the health system and in social and economic terms
INTRODUCTION. Primary headaches are characterised by their high rates of prevalence and incidence among the general population. DEVELOPMENT. The main types of primary headaches that produce a significant social and economic impact as well as an important effect on the health system are migraine and tension-type headaches. Migraine is a condition that gives rise to a high percentage of visits to different health professionals and leads to a large number of prescriptions for medication, which in turn produces an increase in costs. Moreover, general practitioners and other specialists –even from the field of neurology– very often have scant knowledge about primary headaches, especially as regards topics concerning new therapies, the use of the International Headache Society’s diagnostic criteria, epidemiology and comorbidities. Furthermore, many of these professionals seldom attend accredited courses in education in headaches and this means that the follow-up of the patients is often inadequate.
CONCLUSIONS. The appearance of new pharmaceuticals for the abortive and preventive treatment of headaches, together with the creation of specialised headache centres, has allowed improvements to be made in the treatment of patients with lower overall costs for the health system. At the same time, occupational and personal productivity and quality of life have also been enhanced. Nevertheless, because the number of specialised headache centres is low and their implementation is more complex, there is a need for the creation and dissemination of programmes to educate general practitioners and other health care specialists in matters concerning headaches. Some of these programmes currently being run have obtained statistically significant positive results (p < 0.0001).
EpidemiologyMigrainePrimary headachesSocioeconomic impactTension-type headachesCefalea y MigrañaDolor