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Headache In Transient Ischemic Attacks (Tia)

C. Loeb, C. Gandolfo, D. Dall'Agata
Published 1985 · Medicine

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The evaluation of headache in patients with transient ischemic attacks (TIA) has various sources of difficulty, the definition of TIA being the most relevant. The classical definition needs to be supplemented with a normal CT scan if a misleading diagnostic statement is to be avoided. The clinical features of 90 patients suffering from TIA and who had contrast-enhanced CT scans are reported. (1) Headache occurred in 30% of the patients. (2) Headache prevailed in patients with vertebrobasilar TIA compared with carotid TIA (p < 0.05). (3) Headache prevailed as a preceding (24 h) and/or concomitant sign compared with other neurological symptoms (77.8% of the patients). (4) Headache was ipsilateral, in the anterior half of the head in the carotid TIA and in the posterior half of the head in the vertebrobasilar TIA. In about 50% of the patients generalized non-localized headache occurred. Headache usually preceded the neurological symptoms in cases of arterial occlusion (20 carotid, 3 vertebral artery), usually appearing during or after the attack in cases without arterial occlusion. (5) Only 2 cases out of 20 with positive CT scan had headache. These two patients suffered from a rather large hypodense lesion. The other 18 patients showed lacunar lesions. Different hypotheses concerning the physiopathology of the headache associated with TIA are discussed.
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