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Increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis in patients with migraine: a population-based, propensity score-matched cohort study


Previous cross-sectional studies have suggested an association between migraine and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but no longitudinal study has been performed to evaluate the temporal relationship between the two conditions. The purpose of the present population-based, propensity score-matched cohort study was to investigate whether migraineurs are at a higher risk of developing RA. A total of 58,749 subjects aged between 20 and 90 years with at least two ambulatory visits with a diagnosis of migraine were recruited in the migraine group. We fit a logistic regression model that included age, sex, comorbid conditions, and socioeconomic status as covariates to compute the propensity score. The non-migraine group consisted of 58,749 propensity score-matched, randomly sampled subjects without migraine. The RA-free survival curves were generated using the Kaplan–Meier method. Stratified Cox proportional hazard regression was used to estimate the effect of migraine on the risk of RA. During follow-up, 461 subjects in the migraine group and 220 in the non-migraine group developed RA. The incidence rate of RA was 3.18 (95% confidence interval [CI] 2.90–3.49) per 1000 person-years in the migraine group and 1.54 (95% CI 1.34–1.76) per 1000 person-years in the non-migraine group. Compared to the non-migraine group, the crude hazard ratio of RA for the migraine group was 2.15 (95% CI 1.82–2.56, P < 0.0001), and the multivariable-adjusted hazard ratio was 1.91 (95% CI 1.58–2.31, P < 0.0001). This study showed that patients with migraine had an increased risk of developing RA.

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This study was funded by the Department of Health, Executive Yuan, Republic of China [Grant Numbers DOH93-TD-M-113-030, DOH94-TD-M-113-004, and DOH95-TD-M-113-002].

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Shin-Liang Pan.

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Conflict of interest

Yi-Chia Wang, Ya-Ping Huang, Mei-Ting Wang, Hsin-I Wang, Shin-Liang Pan declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research involving Human Participants and informed consent

Any data carrying personally identifiable information were encrypted before data processing to protect the individual privacy as required by Personal Information Protection Act. Since the data were de-identified and were analyzed anonymously for research purposes, no written informed consent was required and this study was exempt from full review by the National Taiwan University Hospital Research Ethics Committee.

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Wang, YC., Huang, YP., Wang, MT. et al. Increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis in patients with migraine: a population-based, propensity score-matched cohort study. Rheumatol Int 37, 273–279 (2017).

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  • Migraine
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Propensity score
  • Risk factors