COVID-19 Causing Hidden Health Impacts
SINGAPORE, Sept. 8, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- COVID-19 has led to an increase in migraine frequency and stress-related migraine attacks in states with a high number of coronavirus cases, according to new research by Healint, the leading provider of healthcare technology and developer of the Migraine Buddy tracking app. Data analyzed from over 300,000 Migraine Buddy users and a sample of nearly 2.5 million migraine attacks from December 20, 2019 to July 31, 2020, shows the proportion of stress-related migraine attacks were often 30 to 50 percent higher than stress-related attacks during the peak of the 2019 holiday season just three months prior.
Nearly 40 million Americans, including 28 million women, suffer from disabling migraine attacks. Migraines do not just impact the health and wellbeing of sufferers, but also carry an economic consequence. It is estimated that migraine sufferers lose an average of four workdays per year in worker productivity, resulting in an economic cost of more than $13 billion.
"It is clear that the stress and anxiety associated with COVID-19 is having a direct impact on the migraine community," said Healint CEO and co-founder Francois Cadiou. "As the United States faces the possibility of a potential second wave, the added responsibility of children at home, challenges to work life balance and a change in routine, migraine sufferers will need to be mindful of how to manage stress to prevent further attacks and lost productivity."
In addition to stress, migraine attacks can be triggered by changes in diet and sleeping patterns, both of which have been impacted by stay-at-home orders and social distancing. Sixty-one percent of migraine sufferers surveyed by Migraine Buddy after reviewing the user data said that their migraines had become more frequent since the start of the pandemic, while 44 percent said their attacks had worsened in severity.
California, Florida, Michigan, and New York are among the top ten states with reports of both increased stress-related migraines and higher than normal migraines experienced at home. While stress-related migraines have decreased since the start of the pandemic, overall migraines experienced at home have remained significantly higher than usual. This is indicative both of the high number of individuals staying at home during lockdown, but also how other factors related to COVID-19 – such as changes in daily routines and sleep schedules or the inability for patients to meet with their doctors during lockdown – has continued to cause migraine attacks even as stress levels have fallen.
"Creating and sticking to a routine is the most important thing migraineurs can do to prevent stress-related attacks, and the pandemic has obviously made that difficult for millions of people." said Cadiou. "It is critical that migraine sufferers establish new routines during this new normal, including re-establishing regular sleep schedules and being mindful of what and when they eat. The best way to establish and stick to those behaviors is through a migraine diary or mobile health tracking app like Migraine Buddy."
The Migraine Buddy app allows users to record key data about the duration, frequency, and intensity of their attacks, as well as information about sleep, dietary, and weather-related triggers, all of which can be shared with their physician electronically or in person. This type of information is not only used to make telemedicine appointments more efficient and effective but provides the documentation necessary to obtain coverage for medications and appointments under most health insurance plans.
Key Survey Findings
COVID-19 Impact on Quality of Care: Almost 79 percent of survey respondents believe that with the healthcare system under pressure, quality of care is likely to be negatively affected.
Decrease in Routine Visits: Nearly 60 percent of respondents said they were either forced to cancel doctor appointments or had decreased access to health and emergency services. While 33 percent of survey respondents noted they have not tried to access migraine care throughout the pandemic for fear of contracting the virus.
Healthy Habits are Declining: Thirty-seven percent of survey respondents reported that the pandemic has made it difficult to maintain a migraine friendly diet.
Stress Levels are Surging: More than 70 percent of migraine patients mentioned they are stressed by the latest evolution of COVID-19 cases. For individual with chronic pain conditions like migraine, stress is can increase the likelihood of experiencing attacks and flare-ups.
Healint is a leading maker of healthcare technology used all over the world for chronic pain management. Healint leverages innovative techniques in software, data science and user experience design to empower people to manage their chronic conditions and diseases. Healint's first global program - the Migraine Buddy platform and its apps - helps a thriving community of users manage and track their migraines.
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