Journal of Nippon Medical School
Studies on headaches of the aged
This study, which includes 884 people over 60 years old (291 men, 593 women; mean age, 78.4), was designed to clarify what kind of relationship can be established between migraine headaches and the aging degenerative factors such as arteriosclerosis and autonomic nerve function. The following results were obtained: 1) Among those who took part, the frequency of headache attacks was figured as 14.3%, but it was not determined by age. The results revealed that women had more headaches than men.
... adaches than men. 2) In studying the characteristics of headaches, the most frequent sites were found to be the occipital and nuchal regions. The most common time for the onset of a headache was during the afternoon and toward evening. The headache consisted mostly of a feeling of heaviness, slight at the worst, and was accompanied more frequently by a stiff shoulder. 3) In comparison to the control subjects, the blood pressure of the aged patients was considered to be hypertension, and, in particular, 160 mmHg systolic or over was more frequent. 4) In their EEG in comparison to the records of the healthy subjects, some abnormalities were revealed, but no remarkable difference was noted between these two groups. 5) The roentgenographic examinations of their cervical spines revealed more frequent abnormalities compared to those of the healthy group, but no significant difference was noted between the two groups. However, more abnormal indications were definitely noted in the cervical spines of the headache patients. 6) The aged headache patients revealed a significantly higher level of cerebrospinal fluid pressure compared to the healthy in the same age range, but it was within the normal limits. 7) The autonomic nerve function showed a more significantly frequent tendency of sympathetic hyperreactor. This suggests the cause of a headache among the aged must be related to the sympathetic nerve system in the same way as the younger patients with headaches. 8) The muscle contraction headaches were more frequently observed than headaches due to cervical spondylosis. Consequently, the aged suffered fewer migraine headaches compared with the younger group of patients. 9) Among the aged, migraine was less frequently recognized. This may be because of (1) the decrease in vascular wall responsiveness due to the development of the arteriosclerosis in the brain and (2) the fact that the autonomic nerve function becomes a sympathetic hyporeactor, which is the major difference from that of youth.