New case of migraines could be deadly for older drivers

AURORA, Colo. — Researchers have uncovered a concerning link between new migraine diagnoses among older adults and the likelihood that they are involved in a car accident. A team from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus found that drivers over 65 who recently started experiencing migraines had a three-fold higher chance of being involved in a motor vehicle crash compared to those without migraines.

Interestingly, those who had a long history of migraines did not show an increased risk of accidents.

“Migraine headaches affect more than 7% of U.S. adults over the age of 60,” says study lead author Carolyn DiGuiseppi, MPH, PhD, MD, a professor with the Colorado School of Public Health, in a university release. “The US population is aging, which means increasing numbers of older adult drivers could see their driving abilities affected by migraine symptoms previously not experienced. These symptoms include sleepiness, decreased concentration, dizziness, debilitating head pain and more.”

The study tracked over 2,500 active drivers between the ages of 65 and 79 across five U.S. locations over five years. Researchers categorized the participants into three groups: those previously diagnosed with migraines, those who experienced migraine symptoms for the first time during the study, and those who never had migraines.

The results reveal that while those with a prior migraine diagnosis did not show an increased likelihood of accidents, those with new-onset migraines were significantly more likely to have a crash within a year of their diagnosis. Interestingly, those with a history of migraines tended to brake hard more often than those who had never experienced migraines.

black car in an accident
Photo by Michael Jin from Unsplash


The study also looked into whether medications typically used to manage migraines influenced driving safety. The findings indicated that these medications did not affect the link between migraines and driving risks, such as accidents or driving habits. However, it’s important to note that only a small portion of the study participants were using acute migraine medications.

“These results have potential implications for the safety of older patients that should be addressed,” says DiGuiseppi. “Patients with a new migraine diagnosis would benefit from talking with their clinicians about driving safety, including being extra careful about other risks, such as distracted driving, alcohol, pain medication and other factors that affect driving.”

The study is published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

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  1. I noticed when I forget my Apple Watch when lifting weights and not able to close my rings feels like a wasted a workout. I guess I’m too attached to my device as well. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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