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What Are the Characteristics of Children With Poststroke Headache?

Researchers characterize poststroke headache in a pediatric population.


CHICAGO—Among children with pediatric stroke, older age at stroke onset, unilateral infarct location, and stroke etiologies of arterio­pathy and chronic illness are associated with the development of poststroke headache, according to a retrospective study presented at the 47th Annual Meeting of the Child Neurology Society.

Poststroke headache is a common morbidity among patients with pediatric stroke, said Ana B. Chelse, MD, of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and colleagues. In addition, poststroke headache in children may increase health care utilization, including neuroimaging and hospital admission, the investigators said.

Research indicates that about 20% of children with stroke have headache one year after the stroke, but data about poststroke headache in children are limited.

To assess the prevalence of novel headache after pediatric stroke, the characteristics of patients with poststroke headache, and the association between poststroke headache and stroke recurrence, Dr. Chelse and colleagues conducted a single-center, retrospective study of children 30 days to 18 years old with stroke. The researchers used an internal database to identify patients with a radiographically confirmed stroke at Lurie Children’s Hospital between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2016.

Patients with ischemic stroke with secondary hemorrhage were included in the study, but patients with primary intracerebral hemorrhage were not. The researchers obtained patients’ demographic characteristics, infarct location, headache history, emergency department visits, neuroimaging, hospital admissions, and headache treatment from medical records. They defined stroke recurrence as an acute neurologic deficit with evidence of new radiologically confirmed ischemia.

The investigators analyzed the data using chi-squared and Fisher’s exact tests. They also performed exploratory multiple logistic regression analyses that included predictors deemed significant in univariate analyses.

Of 183 patients, 45 (24.5%) had poststroke headache. Headache developed at an average of 11.7 months after stroke. In multiple logistic regression analysis, older age and unilateral infarct location were associated with poststroke headache, as were stroke etiologies of arteriopathy (odds ratio [OR], 7.28) or chronic illness (OR, 1.90). Twenty-one patients (11.4%) had a recurrent stroke during the study period. Poststroke headache was associated with stroke recurrence in a univariate analysis, but the association did not reach statistical significance after multiple logistic regression. This association is “uncertain but potentially important,” Dr. Chelse and colleagues said.

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