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Keywords:

  • vascular headache;
  • cerebral ischemia;
  • transient ischemic attack

Sixty (29%) of 205 consecutive patients with transient ischemic attacks registered in a hospital stroke data base had headache within 72 hours of onset. Headache was significantly more common in nonsmokers (odds ratio = 2.8; 95% confidence interval = 6.7 to 1.2). Headache was infrequent in patients with amaurosis fugax, and was not significantly associated with any other particular clinical presentation of transient ischemic attack. Headache was more common in vertebrobasilar (33%) than in carotid distribution (24%) episodes, and was not rare in transient ischemic attacks presenting as lacunar syndromes (29%). Headache was less frequent in patients whose computerized tomograms showed an infarct appropriate to the symptoms (odds ratio = 0.2; 95% confidence interval = 0.02 to 1.4). A diffuse headache was more common in patients with lacunar events than in patients with cortical attacks (odds ratio = 3.0; 95% confidence interval = 13 to 0.07). No other association was found between headache location and the presumed involved vascular territory. Headache in patients with transient ischemic attacks is poorly related/explained by the clinical characteristics of the ischemic event.