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Prevalence of primary headaches in Italian elderly: Preliminary data from the Zabút Aging Project


We describe preliminary 1-year prevalence data of recurrent migraine headache (MH), tension-type headache (TTH), and other headaches (OH) in a rural elderly population. A door-to-door two-phase survey was conducted on all elderly (≥65 years) residents of a rural village in southern Italy. Participants underwent a two-phase screening including a validated semi-structured questionnaire for headaches based on the International Headache Society criteria, and a neurological evaluation. Recurrent headache was defined as 3 or more attacks within the past 12 months. Out of 1031 participants evaluated, 225 (21.8%) suffered from recurrent headaches. One-year prevalence rates for headaches were respectively 4.6% for MH, 16% for TTH, and 1.3% for OH. For MH and TTH, but not for OH, prevalence rates were significantly higher for women than for men. Only MH prevalence rates significantly decrease with increasing age. In our population, about one-fifth of elderly subjects suffered from recurrent primary headaches. Prevalence rates were higher in women, and tended to decline with increasing age.