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J Natl Med Assoc. 2001 Jan;93(1):31-6.

Delayed diagnosis of cluster headache in African-American women.

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Neurologic Center of South Florida, Miami, FL 33176, USA.


The male-to-female ratio has fallen in cluster headache over the last several decades and is now 2.1:1. Unfortunately, women still are not diagnosed accurately. This lack of appropriate diagnosis appears related to the misconception that cluster headache rarely occurs in women. Compounding this misconception, there seems to be an ethnic bias. We report cluster headache in five African-American women in whom diagnosis was delayed due to gender, ethnicity, and, most importantly, an inability to make a correct diagnosis of cluster headache. Cluster headache diagnostic criteria are no different in men or women and have no ethnic boundaries. Clinical features such as disordered chronobiology and abnormal behavior often suggest the diagnosis. Migrainous features occur commonly in cluster headache and, when present, should not exclude the diagnosis. Likewise, neither race nor sex should exclude the diagnosis. The diagnosis of cluster headache is easily made by considering unilateral orbital, supraorbital or temporal location; short duration (15-180 minutes, untreated), and ipsilateral autonomic dysfunction involving the eye or nose.

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