Cluster Headache Awareness Day 2018: A Day of Purpose
Today, Wednesday, March 21, the global cluster headache community comes together to observe the 3rd annual Cluster Headache Awareness Day. Autonomic Technologies, committed to developing innovative solutions for patients with severe headache, is proud to join with patient advocacy organizations, healthcare professional associations, families and friends saluting the courage of people battling this serious disorder. Additionally, the emphasis of this special day is to increase awareness of cluster headache, improve understanding and management of this painful, disabling disorder, and help ensure standardized, high-quality care for cluster headache patients around the world.
Awareness to increase understanding of the “what” and “when” of cluster headache
Affecting up to 1 people in 1,000, cluster headaches occur in cyclical patterns or clusters, and the attacks are rated 10 out of 10 in severity.1 For those unfamiliar with cluster headache, attacks happen on one side of the head and are characterized by intense stabbing pain around the eye, accompanied by autonomic features like tearing, nasal congestion, runny nose, and drooping of the eyelid. Typical episodes of daily attacks can run six to eight weeks or longer, while the attacks themselves last 15 minutes to three hours and happen twice a day on average, though some sufferers endure as many as eight attacks in a day.1
Each year, Cluster Headache Awareness Day is scheduled after the first day of spring, also known as the vernal equinox, to acknowledge the association of cluster headache with seasonal changes and daylight hours as well as the typical surges in cluster attacks that happen around the solstices and equinoxes.
Not to be confused with migraine, cluster headache is its own distinct type of primary headache and is among the most painful and disabling of headaches, leaving many sufferers unable to fully participate in life, work, or activities with family and friends. In one European country, for example, nearly 80 percent of cluster headache patients reported restrictions in their daily activities and 30 percent said they had missed work,2 while in the U.S. nearly 20 percent of cluster patients have reported losing a job due to the condition, with another 8 percent noting they were out of work or on disability.3
Awareness to help improve the diagnosis rate
Despite the significant impact cluster headache has on its sufferers, it is a relatively unknown disorder and is often misdiagnosed, with patients facing an average delay of more than five years from the start of their symptoms until the time they receive a correct diagnosis. For this reason, growing awareness and understanding of cluster headache is vital to helping improve recognition of its symptoms. Severe headache sufferers who have not been diagnosed or are doubtful about their diagnosis should be encouraged to see a headache specialist.
Awareness to emphasize the need for additional therapies
In addition to improving diagnosis, there is also significant need for additional cluster headache therapies that are safe and effective, as treatments have long been limited to either oxygen, which can be impractical to use in everyday life, or medications, which have the potential for systemic side effects.
As some patients are not candidates for these therapies and others may not experience any benefit from them, there is a considerable need for new treatment options that are safe and effective.
That is why many headache experts are encouraged by the clinical data supporting sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) stimulation with the Pulsante® SPG Microstimulator System. Pulsante therapy offers an on-demand, patient-controlled treatment. A handheld remote controller activates a microstimulator to provide both preventative therapy and acute treatment for cluster attacks. Long-term clinical results have demonstrated that more than two thirds of patients have achieved a clinical benefit from SPG stimulation. Click here to learn more about the Pulsante SPG Microstimulator System.
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- Tepper DE. Headache Journal Toolbox: Cluster Headache. Amer. Headache Society. 2015; 757-758.
- Mitsokostas, et al. Refractory chronic cluster headache: a consensus statement on clinical definition from the European Headache Federation. The Journal of Headache and Pain. 2014; 15:79.
- Rozen, et al. Cluster headache in the United States of America: demographics, clinical characteristics, triggers, suicidality, and personal burden (Abstract). Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain. 2012; 52:99-113.
- Barloese, et. al. Sphenopalatine ganglion stimulation for cluster headache, results from a large, open-label European registry. J Headache and Pain 2018; 19:6.