A Retrospective, Epidemiological Review of Hemiplegic Migraines in a Military Population. Academic Article uri icon


  • Headaches are one of the world's most common disabling conditions. They are also both highly prevalent and debilitating among military personnel and can have a significant impact on fitness for duty. Hemiplegic migraines are an uncommon, yet severely incapacitating, subtype of migraine with aura for which there has been a significant increase amongst US military personnel over the past decade. To date, there has not been a scientific report on hemiplegic migraine in United States military personnel.The aim of this study was to provide an overview of hemiplegic migraine, to analyze data on the incidence of hemiplegic migraine in US military service members, and to evaluate demographic factors associated with hemiplegic migraine diagnoses. First time diagnoses of hemiplegic migraine were extracted from the Defense Medical Epidemiological Database according to ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes for hemiplegic migraine. One sample Chi-Square goodness of fit tests were conducted on weighted demographic samples to determine whether significant proportional differences existed between gender, age, military grade, service component, race, and marital status.From 1997 to 2007 there were no cases of hemiplegic migraine recorded in the Defense Medical Epidemiological Database. However, from 2008 to 2017 there was a significant increase in the number of initial diagnoses of hemiplegic migraine, from 4 in 2008 to a high of 101 in 2016. From 2008 to 2017, 597 new cases of hemiplegic migraine were reported among US military service members. Disproportional incidence of hemiplegic migraine was observed for gender, X2 (1, 597) = 297.37, p <.001, age, X2 (5, 597) = 62.60, p <.001, service component, X2 (3, 597) = 31.48, p <.001, pay grade X2 (3, 597) = 57.96, p <.001, and race, X2 (2, 597) = 37.32, p <.001, but not for marital status X2 (1, 597) = 2.57, p >.05.Over the past decade, there has been a significant increase in the number of initial diagnoses of hemiplegic migraine in Active Duty United States military personnel. Based on these diagnosis rates, there is evidence to suggest that hemiplegic migraine has a higher incidence and prevalence rate among post 9/11 service members of the United States military as compared to the general population. Given the sudden increase in new patients diagnosed with hemiplegic migraine in the past decade, the global prevalence estimates of hemiplegic migraine should be reconsidered. Additionally, the impact of hemiplegic migraine on service member's duties and responsibilities deserves further consideration.© Association of Military Surgeons of the United States 2019. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.

publication date

  • March 2019