Clinical Neuroscience

[A prospective study evaluating the clinical characteristics of cluster headache]

ERTSEY Csaba, VESZA Zsófia, BANGÓ Márta, VARGA Tímea, NAGYIDEI Diána, MANHALTER Nóra, BOZSIK György

SEPTEMBER 30, 2012

Clinical Neuroscience - 2012;65(09-10)

[Introduction - Although cluster headache (CH) is one of the most severe human pain syndromes, its symptoms and therapeutic possibilities may be suboptimally recognised in current medical practice in Hungary. Aim - To present the clinical characteristics of CH based on a prospective study of patients attending the Headache Service of the Department of Neurology, Semmelweis University. Methods - We collected information about the symptoms, diagnosis and previous treatment of CH patients by filling in a 108-item questionnaire during outpatient visits. Results - In the 5-year period between 2004 and 2008 we obtained data from 78 CH patients (57 males and 21 females; mean age: 44.6±14.6 years). The male:female ratio did not change in subgroups based on disease onset (calendar years). Ninety-three percent considered CH the most severe pain state of their life. The pain was strictly unilateral, affecting the territory of the 1st trigeminal division in all patients. The attacks were accompanied by signs of ipsilateral cranial parasympathetic activation (lactimation 83%, conjunctival injection 67%, rhinorrhea 56%, nasal congestion 43%); less frequently, signs of sympathetic dysfunction (ptosis 48%, miosis 7%) were also present. Two patients had attacks showing the typical localisation, severity and time course of CH attacks, but not accompanied by autonomic phenomena. A considerable part of the patients also observed symptoms that are usually ascribed to migraine (nausea 41%, vomiting 18%, photophobia 68%, phonophobia 58%). This may have been instrumental in the fact that, regardless of the characteristic clinical symptoms, the diagnosis of CH took 10 years on average. At the time of their examination 63% of patients were not using adequate abortive medications and 59% did not have an adequate prophylactic measure. Discussion - Cluster headache is characterised by attacks of devastating pain that warrant an early diagnosis and adequate treatment. Our study underlines that information about the diagnosis and therapy of CH should be emphasized on occasions of neurology specialty training and continuing medical education.]

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[Introduction - Cluster headache (CH), which affects 0.1% of the population, is one of the most painful human conditions: despite adequate treatment, the frequent and severe headaches cause a significant burden to the patients. According to a small number of previous studies, CH has a serious negative effect on the sufferers’ quality of life (QOL). In the current study, we set out to examine the quality of life of the CH patients attending our outpatient service between 2013 and 2016, using generic and headache-specific QOL instruments. Methods - A total of 42 CH patients (16 females and 26 males; mean age: 39.1±13.5 years) completed the SF-36 generic QOL questionnaire and the headache- specific CHQQ questionnaire (Comprehensive Headache- related Quality of life Questionnaire), during the active phase of their headache. Their data were compared to those of patients suffering from chronic tension type headache (CTH) and to data obtained from controls not suffering from significant forms of headache, using Kruskal-Wallis tests. Results - During the active phase of the CH, the patients’ generic QOL was significantly worse than that of normal controls in four of the 8 domains of the SF-36 instrument. Apart from a significantly worse result in the ‘Bodily pain’ SF-36 domain, there were no significant differences between the CH patients’ and the CTH patients’ results. All the dimensions and the total score of the headache-specific CHQQ instrument showed significantly worse QOL in the CH group than in the CTH group or in the control group. Conclusion - Cluster headache has a significant negative effect on the quality of life. The decrease of QOL experienced by the patients was better reflected by the headache-specific CHQQ instrument than by the generic SF-36 instrument. ]

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