Mon, Jun 17, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Sudden headaches may be caused by RCVS, doctor says

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

People who experience recurrent, sudden and severe headaches, also called “thunderclap” headaches, might have reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome (RCVS) and should consult a doctor, Taipei City Hospital Renai Branch neurologist Wang Yu-chen (王毓禛) said.

A 30-year-old man surnamed Chang (張) experienced a severe headache while exercising at a gym, with the pain lasting for about half an hour, Wang said.

Chang went to the gym the next day and the headache returned after he began exercising, so he sought treatment, Wang said.

Wang, who treated Chang, said he had RCVS, characterized by repeated thunderclap headaches, which reach peak intensity less than a minute from their onset and last five minutes or more.

Chang’s headaches receded after taking anti-vasospasm drugs, Wang said.

There are several causes of thunderclap headaches, including rupturing of an intracranial aneurysm, cerebral hemorrhaging and encephalitis, he said.

RCVS is one of the most common causes of thunderclap headaches, but the exact pathogenesis of the cerebrovascular disorder remains unknown.

RCVS predominantly affects women, with most women diagnosed with the condition aged 40 to 50 and most men aged 30 to 40, he said.

Most people with the condition say that the headaches have a trigger, such as physical exertion, defecation, stress or emotional situations, sexual activity, bathing or showering, he said.

While most people recover with treatment, a small percentage might sustain permanent brain damage, so people with thunderclap headaches should see a doctor as soon as possible, Wang said.

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