An observational study of hospitals in the English National Health Services as well as private hospitals in England over a 14-year period has revealed that incidence of idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) has increased by 108% in the country and that the hospital economic burden has risen from £9.2 million in 2002 to £49.9 million in 2014, with costs forecasts of £462 million per year by 2030.

The study analyzed a total of 23,182 new IIH cases, of which 52% resided in the most socially deprived areas. Peak incidence occurred in females aged 25, with the incidence in women being four times higher than in males. Elective caesarean sections rates were significantly higher in IIH (16%) compared to the general population (9%). Admission rates rose by 442% within the 14 years, with 38% having repeated admissions in the year following diagnosis.

Adult IIH has not been previously associated with social deprivation and adverse obstetric outcomes. Researchers believe that these factors are new signals that reinforce that this disease should not be assumed “benign”. The increase in incidences, hospital visits and the resultant economic burden could have wide reaching implications for health care services. They conclude that developing novel therapeutic options may help to reduce the burden of the expanding disease.

Mollan SP, Aguiar M, Evison F, et al. The expanding burden of idiopathic intracranial hypertension. Eye. October 24, 2018. [Epub ahead of print].