THURSDAY, Dec. 22, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Significant differences are seen between men and women with cluster headache, according to a study published online Dec. 21 in Neurology.

Carmen Fourier, Ph.D., from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, and colleagues describe sex differences in a cluster headache population from Sweden. Data were included for 874 study participants with a verified cluster headache diagnosis (66 and 34 percent men and women, respectively).

The researchers found that compared to men, women were to a greater extent diagnosed with the chronic cluster headache subtype (18 versus 9 percent). Female participants reported longer bouts than male participants in line with this observation; prophylactic treatment was used more often by women (60 versus 48 percent). Women experienced ptosis (61 versus 47 percent) and restlessness (54 versus 46 percent) more often than men. A positive family history of cluster headache was seen for more female than male study participants (15 versus 7 percent). Compared with men, women reported diurnal rhythmicity of their attacks more frequently (74 versus 63 percent). Alcohol as a trigger occurred more often in men, while lack of sleep triggering an attack was more common in women.

“While the ratio of men to women with cluster headache has been shifting over the years, it is still considered mainly a disorder of men, making it more difficult for women with milder symptoms to be diagnosed with cluster headache than men,” a coauthor said in a statement. “It’s possible this could contribute to the higher rate of chronic cluster headache in women.”

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