The records of 21 patients admitted to hospital from January 1985 to December 1988 for acute headache associated with cocaine intoxication were reviewed. Fifteen patients were identified who experienced headaches with migrainous features in the absence of neurological or systemic complications. None of them had a history of cocaine-unrelated headaches or a family history of migraine, and all had a favourable outcome. Three possible mechanisms of cocaine-related vascular headaches are discussed which depend on the interval between cocaine ingestion and development of the headache. We postulate that acute headaches following cocaine use may relate to the sympathomimetic or vasoconstrictive effects of cocaine, while headaches following cocaine withdrawal or exacerbated during a cocaine "binge" may relate to cocaine-induced alteration of the serotoninergic system.
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