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Migraine-like headache as the presenting symptom of basilar artery occlusion


If migraine or a migrainelike headache and stroke occur together, it is difficult to determine whether migraine is the cause of the stroke or stroke is the cause of symptomatic migraine. We report the case of a 19-year-old woman without a history of migraine who presented with a migraine-like headache, nausea and desire for tranquility and dimmed lighting. Initial neurological examination, computed tomography and cerebrospinal fluid analysis were normal, leading to the presumptive diagnosis of first manifestation of migraine. Persistence of dizziness and transient diplopia, however, prompted a magnetic resonance imaging examination, which revealed major stroke in the posterior circulation due to occlusion of the basilar artery. The symptoms resolved spontaneously and treatment with antiplatelet inhibitor was prescribed. Smoking and use of oral contraceptives were identified as vascular risk factors. Stroke in the posterior circulation due to occlusion of the basilar artery may show rather inconspicuous symptoms and provoke migrainous headache.

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Received: 19 August 2002, Accepted in revised form: 2 December 2002

Correspondence to J.G. Heckmann

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  • Key words Migraine
  • Headache Stroke
  • Basilar occlusion


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