Everyone knows them and many have them – there is talk of a headache. Maybe right now when you’re reading, you’re literally blaring your skull. Or a slight pressure is spreading in the head that is uncomfortable and painful. The response of most sufferers is similar – they resort to known painkillers. However, this quick grip on medicines is not always your best bet. Why? The physicians distinguish several headache types – up to 200.

The reason for this large number is different distinguishing features or causes and symptoms of specific headache types. For example, headaches can be triggered by external stimuli, have a purely biological cause, are associated with illness or can also be caused by the intake of medication. Fact: Headache is not the same as headache.

Chronic or acute – when headaches torment us

You have probably also suffered from headaches over the past 12 months. This puts you in good company. According to a study, about 60 percent of the population in Germany suffer from headaches on a 12-month average. Women are much more affected. While the frequency varied between 50 and 55 percent in the male participants, it reached values between 65 percent and 70 percent among the female study participants. Particularly severe are the headache limitations for about five percent of the German population – suffering from a daily headache.

What are headaches but actually? In general, it is understood as meaning a pain sensation in the area of the skull, the meninges, the blood vessels as well as the brain and upper spinal nerves. Depending on the cause, it is referred to as a primary headache when the pain is the trigger of the condition. A secondary headache, on the other hand, is when the pain is caused by a disease or an organ condition (such as tumors).

And also with regard to appearance, the individual headache types differ. In some cases, they only appear acutely. Patients complain of discomfort for only a few hours to a few days. In contrast, a headache disorder can also occur chronically. Where exactly the dividing line lies differs from headache disease to headache disease. In a migraine and tension-type headache – the two most common clinical pictures – medics speak of chronic disease when the pain occurs on 15 days per month over a longer period (in tension-type headache over six months).

The different types of headache

Since headaches can be classified according to their origin in primary and secondary headache as well as the type of pain, a precise representation of the individual headache types is difficult. The most common and common types include tension-type headache and migraine. While the latter is described with recurrent attacks of pain, which may be accompanied by a pulsating and hemiplegic headache as well as photophobia, nausea, and vomiting, the tension-type headache is described as pulling-pushing and without the migraine-typical accompanying symptoms.

The so-called cluster headache (also known as Bing-Horton neuralgia) has repeatedly appeared in the media and medical literature over the past few years. Unlike the widespread tension-type headache, which manifests itself bilaterally, in the case of boring cluster headache, strong preference is given to one side of the head (in the area of the eye/temple). Patients also report extreme pain, which can begin shortly after falling asleep, in the morning or at lunchtime. Although the exact cause of a cluster headache is unclear, studies suggest hypothalamic involvement and activation of the trigeminal nerve. The latter is involved in a whole group of headaches – trigemino-autonomic headache disorders, which include not only cluster headaches but also SUNCT syndrome and paroxysmal hemicrania. Here is an overview of the most important headache types:

  • Tension headaches
  • Migraine
  • Cluster headache

Overview-Of-Headache-Types

In addition, modern medicine knows other types of headaches, such as:

  • Sexual headache (occurs more frequently in men during sexual intercourse)
  • Headache associated with the cervical spine
  • Headache

If a clot clogs a vessel in the brain, it often has serious consequences for the patient. But the risks for a stroke can be influenced. What role do blood pressure, diet and exercise play? Sport can positively influence risk factors for stroke, for example, prevent high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes.

It’s raining. Instead of the Alps in the Upper Bavarian Aschau all around today, only cloud mountains can be seen. No weather for a walk. Therese Schmid (66) is still on the way. “It can not always be the sun,” she says. Twice a week, she and her husband travel the distance from their home to the school. Not to learn, but because they are taking part in a study.

“Pressure down, activity up!” is the name of the prevention project in which older citizens from the village accompany children on their way to school. “Above all, we are interested in whether something can be done to combat high blood pressure – the most important risk factor for cardiovascular diseases such as stroke,” says the prevention researcher. Birgit Böhm from the Technical University of Munich, who supervises the project.

The lifestyle plays an important role

Stroke is one of the biggest threats to health in Germany. Every year, it affects around 270,000 people. The circulatory disorder of the brain usually occurs when a vessel in the head is narrowed or closed. Rarer is a brain hemorrhage behind it. For those affected, the consequences are often dramatic. No other event is responsible for so many cases of disability. The acute treatment of stroke has made progress in recent years. Even more important is prevention.

“The studies clearly show that many risk factors can be well influenced by the individual lifestyle,” says Professor Bernhard Krämer, CEO of the German Society for Hypertension and Prevention. Which factors are, researchers examined the data from more than 13 000 stroke patients from 32 countries. The result of this so-called interstroke analysis: Nine out of ten attacks are directly or indirectly related to the lifestyle. Most would be avoidable.

reduce-the-risk-factors-of-stroke

Prevention clarifies the risk factors of a stroke

Number one in the risk ranking is hypertension. The affected person is not always aware of this. Expert Krämer explains to patients that hypertension can damage the blood vessels throughout the body – including those in the brain. However, if you go against him, the stroke risk drops. “Ideally, patients with exercise, weight reduction, and a low-salt diet can bring about a significant improvement,” says Krämer. However, antihypertensive drugs are also often included.

When developing a stroke, various risk factors are closely linked. Lack of exercise, for example, also contributes to obesity. Both, in turn, promote diabetes and bad lipid levels – further risk factors for an attack. These connections are also in the Aschauer prevention project. Scientist Böhm works closely with a local pharmacy. “We advise people who have cardiovascular diseases here every day, so a healthy lifestyle and preventive care are very important to us,” says pharmacist Claudia Zangerl.

Together with Böhm, she organized two action days around the topic of cardiovascular health. Most of the study participants were found. “The willingness to talk about one’s own health is very high in the pharmacy, which is why prevention is in good hands there,” explains Böhm. Four times over the course of one and a half years, study participants are examined and their blood pressure is measured. Everyone gets an activity tracker that counts every step and monitors the heart rate. At least 10,000 steps a day, the subjects should go. Whether the values can be lowered – as hoped – will be demonstrated in the coming year.

These measures reduce the risk of stroke

  • Lower your blood pressure, For experts the most important step. Good values can reduce the risk by up to 40 percent.
  • Stop smoking, Every fifth attack could be avoided if patients overcome their nicotine addiction.
  • Eat healthy and balanced, Lots of vegetables, fruits, and fish, little salt – that protects the vessels. Another tip: drink little or no alcohol
  • Move enough, This benefits the cardiovascular system. In addition, the risk of hypertension, obesity and metabolic diseases decreases.

Risk factor atrial fibrillation: Listen to the heartbeat

But not all risk factors are as effective as hypertension. For example, atrial fibrillation also increases the risk. However, this widespread cardiac arrhythmia is often not discovered. “Cardiologists often do not see such patients until they have the first stroke,” says Dr. Philipp Sommer from the Heart Center Leipzig. When atrial fibrillation, the heart gets out of rhythm, it beats rhythmically and often clearly too fast. About 15 percent of all attacks are caused by it.

“Due to the irregular pumping activity, blood clots form in the heart, which in turn can block vessels in the brain,” explains expert Sommer. For a previous diagnosis, it would be important for people over 65 to “listen to their heart” more often. Because many sufferers feel the atrial fibrillation as a somewhat irregular, faster heartbeat. “You can then feel the pulse on your wrist and have any irregularities clarified,” explains Sommer. Sphygmomanometers also sometimes help to detect rhythm problems. “If the arrhythmia