Secondary headaches

Continuum (Minneap Minn). 2012 Aug;18(4):783-95. doi: 10.1212/01.CON.0000418642.53146.17.


Purpose of review: This article identifies the pertinent historical issues that lead to the identification of those headaches needing additional testing to exclude a serious underlying cause.

Recent findings: Recurrences of giant cell arteritis, even after presumed successful treatment, are common. Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome is an often unrecognized cause of headache.

Summary: Patients with a primary headache disorder are more susceptible to the development of headache when a secondary cause occurs. Their headaches may be phenotypically similar to their primary headache disorder. Therefore, a secondary cause should be considered in patients with preexisting headache disorders who develop a significant increase in the number and severity of those attacks.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Diseases / complications*
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / complications*
  • Female
  • Headache / diagnosis
  • Headache / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / complications*
  • Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome / complications*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications