Background Cluster headache exists diagnostically in a chronic and episodic variant between which patients can convert. We aimed to describe how many patients change phenotype, elucidate possible factors associated with this transition and identify differences in clinical features between primary and secondary phenotypes.Methods 540 well-defined cluster headache patients according to current ICHD-criteria completed a cross-sectional semi-structured interview.Results Total transition-incidence for the cohort was 20.7%. Conversion from chronic to episodic was reported by 6.3% and transition from episodic to chronic by 14.4% with attack side shift as a possible predictor (p = 0.007). Compared to primary chronic patients, secondary chronic patients had more frequent (60 vs 34 per month, p = 0.0487), but shorter (60 vs 90 minutes, p = 0.041) attacks. Secondary episodic patients experienced shorter remission periods than primary episodic patients (6 vs 11 months, p = 0.010). Treatment response was poor in all groups and only one third had effective prevention.Conclusion Cluster headache is a fluctuating disorder with a fifth of our cohort having experienced at least one phenotype change during course of disease. Apart from attack side shifts, no predictors for transition were identified. Severity differed between primary and secondary subtypes. Overall, there is an urgent need for better understanding of cluster headache.

TidsskriftCephalalgia : an international journal of headache
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)3331024221128287
StatusUdgivet - jan. 2023


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