Exertional Headache and Coronary Ischemia Despite Normal Electrocardiographic Stress Testing


  • F. Michael Cutrer MD,

  • Karina Huerter PAC

  • From the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.

Address all correspondence to F. Michael Cutrer, MD, Mayo Clinic, Division of Headache, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905.


Exertional headaches may under certain conditions reflect coronary ischemia. We report the case of a patient seen in a neurology referral practice whose exertional headaches, even in the face of two normal electrocardiographic stress tests and in the absence of underlying chest pain were the sole symptoms of coronary ischemia as detected by Tc-99m Sestamibi testing SPECT stress testing. Stent placement resulted in complete resolution of headaches. Exertional headache in the absence of chest pain may reflect underlying symptomatic coronary artery disease (CAD) even when conventional electrocardiographic stress testing does not indicate ischemia.