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May 1992

Headaches Preceded by Visual Aura Among Adolescents and Young Adults: A Population-Based Survey

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Epidemiology, The Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, Md (Drs Linet and Stewart), and Department of Neurology, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City (Dr Ziegler). Dr Linet is currently with the Analytic Studies Section, Biostatistics Branch, Epidemiology and Biostatistics Program, Division of Cancer Etiology, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md.

Arch Neurol. 1992;49(5):512-516. doi:10.1001/archneur.1992.00530290100018

• Clinical descriptions of migraine preceded by visual aura often include a composite of striking and severe symptoms of several attacks in individual patients, but few studies have characterized the spectrum of such attacks. In a populationbased telephone survey of 8920 Washington County, Maryland, residents 12 through 29 years old, the attack rate for visual aura headaches during the week prior to the standardized interview was 3.7% in male and 6.1% in female subjects. Among female subjects, the risk for visual aura headache with tension-type symptoms increased with age, whereas the risk for visual aura headache without tension symptoms decreased with increasing age. No clear agerelated patterns were observed among male subjects for either type of aura headache. The severity of visual aura headache with and without tension symptoms increased with age among female subjects, but showed an inconsistent pattern among male subjects except for decreasing disability with increasing age. The median interval between the onset of aura symptoms and the onset of headache (aura interval) was 15 minutes in male subjects and 25 minutes in female subjects, with aura intervals longer than 60 minutes reported by 12% of male subjects and 20% of female subjects. In one of the first large population-based studies to characterize the spectrum of visual aura headache, differing age, gender, and subtype patterns were found.

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