New daily persistent headache (NDPH) triggered by a single Valsalva event: A case series

Todd D Rozen
Cephalalgia: An International Journal of Headache 2019, 39 (6): 785-791

OBJECTIVE: To describe a new subtype of new daily persistent headache that is triggered by a single Valsalva event.

METHODS: A case series of patients was evaluated in an academic headache clinic over a 3-year time period.

RESULTS: A total of seven patients (four female and three male) were diagnosed with this new subtype of new daily persistent headache. The headaches all began after a single Valsalva event. Average age at time of headache onset was 41 years (males: 39 years; females: 43 years) with an age range of 20-62 years. All patients developed their syndrome during the months of September to February with November and February being the most cited months (5/7 patients). Immediate worsening in the Trendelenburg position occurred in all patients and appeared to be an almost diagnostic test for the syndrome. No patient had papilledema on funduscopic exam. Five out of seven patients had no prior headache history including cough, exercise or migraine. Four of seven patients were of normal weight, while one was overweight and two were obese. A crowded posterior fossa was identified in five of seven patients on brain MRI. On cerebrospinal fluid pressure/volume lowering medication (acetazolamide, indomethacin and/or spironolactone), five out of seven patients achieved 90% plus improvement in headache frequency while three patients became pain free. Three patients were able to taper off medication without headache recurrence.

CONCLUSION: New daily persistent headache after a single Valsalva event appears to be a unique subtype of new daily persistent headache that is responsive to cerebrospinal fluid pressure/volume lowering medications. An abnormal reset of cerebrospinal fluid pressure/intracranial pressure to an elevated state is the presumed pathogenesis and may relate to the patient's baseline neuroanatomy of a crowded posterior fossa. There appears to be a circadian periodicity to the onset of the syndrome. Worsening in the Trendelenburg position is a probable diagnostic test. Defining new daily persistent headache subtypes by triggering event appears to be making a positive inroad in the understanding of this condition and helps present new effective therapies.

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