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Cephalalgia. 2001 Apr;21(3):198-200.

New-onset cluster headache in middle-age and elderly women.

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Department of Neurology, Headache Clinics, Sourasky Medical Center, Tel Aviv, Israel.


Cluster headache is usually considered to affect young men. We hereby report on new-onset cluster headache in middle-aged and elderly women. We performed a retrospective chart review of female patients diagnosed with cluster headache (IHS criteria), and studied the charts of women in whom the headache started after the age of 50 years. Out of 168 patients (26 women, 15%) diagnosed with cluster headache, the headache started after the age of 50 years in seven women, of whom three reported past tension-type or migraine headaches. The mean age at the beginning of the headache was 61 +/- 8 years (range 52--72 years). In all cases, the pain was severe, strictly unilateral, and accompanied by at least one autonomic symptom. The average duration of the pain was 70 min (range 20 min--3 h), recurring daily for an average period of 7 weeks (range 1--16 weeks). Five patients had 1--2 pain attacks each day, while the other two experienced up to eight episodes of pain in 1 day. In two patients the periodicity of the pain was currently undetermined. In the remainder, the headache periods recurred every 1--4 years. Cluster headache is commonly considered to be a young-male disorder, but middle-aged and elderly women may also be affected. The characteristics of the pain and its manner of occurrence were similar in our cases to those reported in the young-male population.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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