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Cognitive and emotional impairment in patients with migraine and signs of leukoencephalopathy during preventive therapy

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Patients with migraine and signs of leukoencephalopathy are frequently found to have cognitive impairment (CI), the pathogenesis of which is not entirely clear. The dynamics of CI in these patients during preventive therapy has been little studied.

Patients and methods. A six-month follow-up study was conducted in 50 patients (8 men and 42 women; mean age, 41.9±11.9 years) with migraine (mainly chronic one) and signs of cerebral leukoencephalopathy according to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A control group consisted of 40 healthy individuals (13 males and 27 females) aged 20 to 64 years (mean age, 42.6±12.0 years). Neuropsychological examinations (the 12-word recall test; the test of literal and categorical associations; the Benton visual retention test, the Munsterberg test; the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA), the trail making test; the forward and backward digit recall test; the digit-symbol coding test; and the Stroop color test) and studies of emotional disorders (the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D); the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), and the Spielberger-Khanin Scale) were performed at baseline, and at 3 and 6 months of preventive therapy for migraine.

Results and discussion. The patients with migraine versus the control group were observed to have lower scores of the MoCA (p=0.004), the 12- word recall test (p=0.0003), and the tests of literal (p=0.001) and categorical (p=0.0002) associations. No significant relationship was found between the volume of MRI cerebral white matter lesions and the severity of CI. There was a moderate inverse correlation (correlation coefficient R=-0.41) between the number of headache (HA) days per month and the MoCA score (p<0.05). The patients with migraine were found to have the signs of depression on the Hospital Depression Scale (p=0.04), the BDI (p=0.003), and the CES-D Scale (p=0.0001) and increased anxiety on the HADS (p=0. 0001) and the Spielberger–Khanin Scale (p=0.0001). There was a significant association between the degree of depression and the MoCA score (p=0.007). During 6-month preventive therapy, there was a decline in the incidence of HA from 19.4±2.9 to 12.6±4.4 days per month (p<0.05), a significant reduction in the severity of emotional disorders, and an improvement in cognitive functions by most neuropsychological tests (the MoCA, the 12-word recall test, the Munsterberg test, and the trail making test Part B) compared to the baseline data.

Conclusion. During preventive treatment for migraine, there was a reduction in the frequency of HA attacks and in the severity of emotional and cognitive impairment. The preventive treatment of migraine and related emotional disorders seems to be the most effective way to improve cognitive functions.

About the Authors

K. A. Pozhidaev
I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University (Sechenov University), Ministry of Health of Russia
Russian Federation

Department of Nervous System Diseases and Neurosurgery Institute of Clinical Medicine

11, Rossolimo St., Build, 1, Moscow 119021

V. A. Parfenov
I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University (Sechenov University), Ministry of Health of Russia
Russian Federation

Vladimir Anatolyevich Parfenov

Department of Nervous System Diseases and Neurosurgery Institute of Clinical Medicine

11, Rossolimo St., Build, 1, Moscow 119021


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For citations:

Pozhidaev K.A., Parfenov V.A. Cognitive and emotional impairment in patients with migraine and signs of leukoencephalopathy during preventive therapy. Neurology, Neuropsychiatry, Psychosomatics. 2020;12(6):19-25. (In Russ.)

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