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Rigshospitalet - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital
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Understanding the link between obesity and headache- with focus on migraine and idiopathic intracranial hypertension

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BACKGROUND: Obesity confers adverse effects to every system in the body including the central nervous system. Obesity is associated with both migraine and idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH). The mechanisms underlying the association between obesity and these headache diseases remain unclear.

METHODS: We conducted a narrative review of the evidence in both humans and rodents, for the putative mechanisms underlying the link between obesity, migraine and IIH.

RESULTS: Truncal adiposity, a key feature of obesity, is associated with increased migraine morbidity and disability through increased headache severity, frequency and more severe cutaneous allodynia. Obesity may also increase intracranial pressure and could contribute to headache morbidity in migraine and be causative in IIH headache. Weight loss can improve both migraine and IIH headache. Preclinical research highlights that obesity increases the sensitivity of the trigeminovascular system to noxious stimuli including inflammatory stimuli, but the underlying molecular mechanisms remain unelucidated.

CONCLUSIONS: This review highlights that at the epidemiological and clinical level, obesity increases morbidity in migraine and IIH headache, where weight loss can improve headache morbidity. However, further research is required to understand the molecular underpinnings of obesity related headache in order to generate novel treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number123
JournalJournal of Headache and Pain
Volume22
Issue number1
ISSN1129-2377
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

© 2021. The Author(s).

    Research areas

  • Headache, Humans, Intracranial Pressure, Migraine Disorders/complications, Obesity/complications, Pseudotumor Cerebri/complications

ID: 68392068