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New migraine tool helps doctors match right drug to right patient

May, 2003 -- The National Headache Foundation (NHF) is launching a new assessment tool for the 28 million Americans who suffer from debilitating migraine headaches.

It's called the Migraine Attack Profile (MAP), and it tracks the duration and intensity of individual headache attacks so doctors learn which aspects of migraine affect a patient most, how long each phase of an attack lasts, and what tends to make them get better or worse. Eventually, a pattern appears and doctors can use this information to help select the most appropriate medication for the patient's migraine, as well as identify the best time to start treatment of individual attacks.

The NHF offers the following tips to help improve the doctor/patient partnership:

  • Seek expert help. Find out if your doctor has experience in treating migraine, or consider seeing a headache specialist or a neurologist.
  • Learn all you can about headaches. This will help you better communicate with your healthcare provider. Resources available at the NHF are a great place to start.
  • Be open and honest. Make sure you communicate to your healthcare provider about your headaches and how they influence your life.
  • Ask questions. Don't leave the office until you understand all of your treatment options and you and your doctor can agree on realistic treatment expectations.
  • Follow-up regularly. Track your treatment progress with a headache calendar, and be prepared to discuss it during your next visit.

Industry loses approximately $50 billion per year due to absenteeism and medical expenses caused by headache, and migraine sufferers lose more than 157 million workdays each year. Typically, migraine sufferers experience an average of two attacks per month, which can last anywhere from four to 72 hours.

For more information about headaches and to obtain a free copy of the Migraine Attack Profile, contact the NHF at 1-888-NHF-5552 or visit

Source: National Headache Foundation

Posted: May 2003