Importance of recognizing sentinel headache

Neurology and Neurosurgery Service, Santa Casa Hospital, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Surgical Neurology International (Impact Factor: 1.18). 12/2012; 3:162. DOI: 10.4103/2152-7806.105101
Source: PubMed


Sentinel headache (SH) is a kind of secondary headache and is characterized as sudden, intense, and persistent, preceding spontaneous subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) by days or weeks.

Eighty-nine consecutive patients with a diagnosis of spontaneous SAH were evaluated following admission to the Neurosurgical Service at Santa Casa Hospital, Belo Horizonte, between December 2009 and December 2010.

Out of the 89 patients, 64 (71.9%) were women. Mean age was 48.9 years (SD ± 13.4, ranging from 18 to 85 years). Twenty-four patients (27.0%) presented SH, which occurred, in average, 10.6 days (SD ± 13.5) before a SAH. No statistically significant differences were observed between the presence of SH and gender, arterial hypertension and migraine (P > 0.05), Glasgow Comma Scale (GCS) and World Federation of Neurological Surgeons (WFNS) scale at admission.

The prevalence of SH was 27% in this study but no related factors were identified. Therefore, further clarification of this important entity is required so as to facilitate its recognition in emergency services and improve the prognosis of patients with cerebral aneurysms.