Migraine Facts

What is Migraine and how common is it?

Migraine is a complex neurological condition which is classified by the World Health Organization as the 7th most disabling disease worldwide, the 4th for women. 1 Dr. Elizabeth Leroux from Migraine Canada further suggests that "Migraine is a neurological disease that is quite complex. The migraine attack may be triggered by different variations influencing our body. Once a certain threshold is reached, the migraine cascade is initiated and ends in the release of inflammatory substances near the sensitive nerves of the meninges." Read her full description HERE

  • Migraine is the 3rd most prevalent illness in the world.
  • Approximately 8.3 per cent of Canadians are estimated to have migraine 2
  • 8% of women, 6% of men, and 3% of children experience migraines.
  • Approximately 1 billion people suffer from migraine globally.
  • While most sufferers experience attacks once or twice a month approximately 745, 372 (2% of the population in 2018) of Canadians have chronic migraine with at least 15 migraine days per month. For more on CM see our red button reviewed by Dr. Werner Becker, Calgary, Alberta)
  • Associated symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, visual disturbances, sensitivity to light/sound. Dizziness and vertigo are also experienced by some people.

Chronic Migraine (CM)

  • When people with migraine have headache on more than 14 days a month, they are diagnosed with chronic migraine. Chronic Migraine is one cause of very frequent headache, with some patients having headache almost every day or even every day. 3 
  •  A treatment approved by Health Canada is Botox injections. You can also visit www.mychronicmigraine.ca
  • Approximately 8.3 per cent of Canadians are estimated to have migraine.  It is estimated world-wide that 1.4 to 2.2 per cent of populations in the US and Europe have chronic migraine. This means approximately 745,732 Canadians live with CM.


  • Dr. Christine Lay has written an article on the "traffic light system" for treating headaches. If you are interested in this article please email Brent at


  • A new class of medicines are called CGRP (Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide) anti-migraine treatments. These new breakthrough drugs are effective in treating CM.
  • See our table top display on these new breakthrough treatments. 

The way Migraine affects Employment

  • Migraine is most common between the ages of 25 and 55. These are the peak productive years for employment.  Migraine is one of the leading reasons why people miss time from work.  If you are an employer, this has huge ramifications on your business.
  • According to the Migraine Research Foundation " More than 90% of sufferers are unable to work or function normally during their migraine."
  • In the UK, Migraine/chronic headache was found to be the second most frequently identified cause of short-term absence (47%) for non-manual employees. 4

 When Migraine Patients access a Physician

  • Migraine remains undiagnosed and undertreated in at least 50% of patients, and fewer than 50% of migraine patients consult a physician. 5
  • Dr. Christine Lay from Toronto, Canada suggests that 80% of migraineurs visit their family physician for their migraines. While headache is going to be the most common neurological disorder seen by primary care physicians, medical school curriculum often concentrates on potentially life-threatening neurological disorders, which if missed, can have fatal consequences—e.g., subarachnoid haemorrhage, meningitis, etc.  As a consequence, while simple headache problems receive excellent attention and care, more complex problems, such as chronic migraine, are sometimes a diagnostic and often a therapeutic challenge for primary care physicians and even general neurologists. 6


  • An older theory on the causation of migraine included that migraine is primarily a disease of the blood vessels. It is now accepted that migraine is not related to any vascular pathology and brain mechanisms are more likely involved in the development of migraine attacks. 7

3 Headache Neurologists (there are more)

  • Migraine Canada - National
    Dr. Elizabeth Leroux, MD, FRCPC, Headache Neurologist, Clinical Associate Professor, Neurology, Montreal, Quebec
  • Women's College Hospital for Headache - Toronto, ON
    Dr. Christine Lay, MD, FRCP, Headache Neurologist, Board Certified in Neurology
  • University of Western Ontario - London, ON
    Dr. Paul E. Cooper, MD, FRCPC, FAAN London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph’s Health Care, Department of Clinical Neurological Sciences, London, Ontario

Further Statistics on Impact

a) Migraine Canada (CAD)- https://migrainecanada.org/

b) Migraine Research Foundation (US) - https://migraineresearchfoundation.org/about-migraine/migraine-facts/

b) Migraine Tust (UK) - https://www.migrainetrust.org/about-migraine/migraine-what-is-it/facts-f...

d) American Migraine Foundation (US) - https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-librar


1. Global Burden of Disease Study 2013. Vos et al. The Lancet, Volume 386, Issue 9995, Pages 743-800 22 August 2015

2. Dr. Paul Cooper, Headache Neurologist, University of Western Ontario

3. Dr. Werner Becker, Neuroscience Professor, Calgary, Alberta. What is Chronic Migraine?

4. CBI, Pfizer. Healthy Returns Absence and Workplace Health Survey 2011. P20

5. Pavone E et al. Patterns of triptans use: a study based on the records of a community pharmaceutical department. Cephalalgia. 2007;27(9):1000-4.

6. Dr. Paul Cooper, Headache Neurologist, London, Ontario

7. Goadsby PJ et al. Neurobiology of migraine. Neuroscience 2009; 161(2): 327-41.



Dr. Elizabeth Leroux comments about "What is Migraine"

Dr. Elizabeth Leroux from Migraine Canada further adds: Migraine is a neurological disease that is quite complex. The migraine attack may be triggered by different variations influencing our body. Once a certain threshold is reached, the migraine cascade is initiated and ends in the release of inflammatory substances near the sensitive nerves of the meninges. Many brain zones are activated during an attack. Genetic studies have shown that multiple genes are involved in migraine. In summary, the migrainous brain has a particular chemical and electrical software, determined by genes, that reacts to changes in the environment by triggering attacks.

Multiple triggers may add up to trigger an attack. Certain people are sensitive to certain triggers. This variability is typical of migraine. Categories of triggers include emotional reactions, mental effort, hormonal changes, sleep variations, diet, medications, weather..the list is long.

Managing migraine starts with a good understanding of what it is, then the selection of approaches to control the attacks and decrease their frequency.

Click a province on the map above
or the list below:
   British Columbia

New Brunswick 
   Nova Scotia 
Prince Edward Island 
Newfoundland / Labrador
Northwest Territories 
Yukon Territories

The book Chronic Daily Headache features
an article reviewed by a Headache Neurologist
entitled "Why Some Headache Patients do
not Improve"!