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Posted by Todd ( on January 27, 2001 at 09:50:54:

Cluster Headache Patients in Community Experience Long Delay Before Diagnosis

WESTPORT, CT (Reuters Health) Jan 19 - Many people with cluster headaches experience an ungodly delay before their condition is correctly diagnosed, according to the results of what is reportedly the first study conducted outside a specialty clinic.

According to Dr. Jack A. Klapper and associates, of the Colorado Neurology and Headache Center in Denver, surveyed Internet users who accessed the website for the Organization for the Understanding of Cluster Headache. The investigators report in the current issue of Headache, dated October, that 87% of 789 respondents met International Headache Society criteria for cluster headache.

The investigators believe that 81 more subjects experienced cluster headache who did not meet the criteria, either because duration of headache was longer than 3 hours or because headaches were bilateral. The remaining 15 respondents likely had migraines or unclassifiable headaches.

Based on responses from people with cluster headache, it took a mean of 6.6 years from headache onset for the condition to be diagnosed correctly. Patients saw on average 4.3 physicians before the correct diagnosis was made. Some complained that their physicians or third-party payers denied effective medications such as sumatriptan or oxygen.

"The findings of this study are an alert to physicians to better meet the needs of this population with faster diagnosis and prescription of effective medication," Dr. Klapper and his colleagues conclude.

Headache 2000;40:730-735.

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