Persistent headache after first-ever ischemic stroke: clinical characteristics and factors associated with its development

Elena R Lebedeva, Anton V Ushenin, Natalia M Gurary, Denis V Gilev, Nadezda V Kislyak, Jes Olesen


BACKGROUND: It is poorly described how often headache attributed to stroke continues for more than 3 months, i.e. fulfils the criteria for persistent headache attributed to ischemic stroke. Our aims were: 1) to determine the incidence of persistent headache attributed to past first-ever ischemic stroke (International headache society categories; 2) to describe their characteristics and acute treatment; 3) to analyse the prevalence of medication overuse headache in patients with persistent headache after stroke; 4) to evaluate factors associated with the development of persistent headache after stroke.

METHODS: The study population consisted of 550 patients (mean age 63.1, 54% males) with first-ever ischemic stroke, among them 529 patients were followed up at least three months after stroke. Standardized semi-structured interview forms were used to evaluate these headaches during professional face-to-face interviews at stroke onset and telephone interviews at 3 months.

RESULTS: At three months, 61 patients (30 women and 31 men, the mean age 60.0) of 529 (11.5%) follow-up patients had a headache after stroke: 34 had a new type of headache, 21 had a headache with altered characteristics and 6 patients had a headache without any changes. Therefore 55 (10.4%) patients had a persistent headache attributed to ischemic stroke. Their clinical features included: less severity of accompanying symptoms, slowly decreasing frequency and development of medication overuse headache in one-third of the patients. The following factors were associated with these headaches: lack of sleep (29.1%, p = 0.009; OR 2.3; 95% CI 1.2-4.3), infarct in cerebellum (18.2%, p = 0.003; OR 3.0; 95% CI 1.4-6.6), stroke of undetermined etiology (50.9%, p = 0.003; OR 2.3; 95% CI 1.3-4.1), less than 8 points by NIHSS score (90.9%, p = 0.007; OR 3.4; 95% CI 1.4-8.6) and low prevalence of large-artery atherosclerosis (12.7%, p = 0.006; OR 0.3; 95% CI 0.2-0.80).

CONCLUSION: Persistent headache attributed to ischemic stroke is not rare and frequently leads to medication overuse. The problem is often neglected because of other serious consequences of stroke but actually, it has a considerable impact on quality of life. It should be a focus of interest in the follow-up of stroke patients.

TidsskriftJournal of Headache and Pain
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)1-10
Antal sider10
StatusUdgivet - 2022


Dyk ned i forskningsemnerne om 'Persistent headache after first-ever ischemic stroke: clinical characteristics and factors associated with its development'. Sammen danner de et unikt fingeraftryk.