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J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 1987 Sep;50(9):1148-52.

Post-epileptic headache and migraine.

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National Hospitals for Nervous Diseases, Maida Vale Hospital, London, UK.


One hundred epileptic patients were questioned about their headaches. Post-ictal headaches occurred in 51 of these patients and most commonly lasted 6-72 hours. Major seizures were more often associated with post-epileptic headaches than minor attacks. Nine patients in this series of 100 also had migraine: in eight of these nine a typical, albeit a mild, migraine attack was provoked by fits. The post-ictal headache in the 40 epileptics who did not have migraine was accompanied by vomiting in 11 cases, photophobia in 14 cases and vomiting with photophobia in 4 cases. Furthermore, post-epileptic headache was accentuated by coughing, bending and sudden head movements and relieved by sleep. It is, therefore, clear that seizures provoke a syndrome similar to the headache phase of migraine in 50% of epileptics. It is proposed that post-epileptic headache arises intracranially and is related to the vasodilatation known to follow seizures. The relationship of post-epileptic headache to migraine is discussed in the light of current ideas on migraine pathogenesis, in particular the vasodilation which accompanies Leao's spreading cortical depression.

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