Cephalalgia. 2021 Jun 16:3331024211020404. doi: 10.1177/03331024211020404. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate the association of headache during the acute phase of SARS-CoV-2 infection with long-term post-COVID headache and other post-COVID symptoms in hospitalised survivors.
METHODS: A case-control study including patients hospitalised during the first wave of the pandemic in Spain was conducted. Patients reporting headache as a symptom during the acute phase and age- and sex-matched patients without headache during the acute phase participated. Hospitalisation and clinical data were collected from medical records. Patients were scheduled for a telephone interview 7 months after hospital discharge. Participants were asked about a list of post-COVID symptoms and were also invited to report any additional symptom they might have. Anxiety/depressive symptoms and sleep quality were assessed with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index.
RESULTS: Overall, 205 patients reporting headache and 410 patients without headache at hospitalisation were assessed 7.3 months (Standard Deviation 0.6) after hospital discharge. Patients with headache at onset presented a higher number of post-COVID symptoms (Incident Rate Ratio: 1.16, 95% CI: 1.03-1.30). Headache at onset was associated with a previous history of migraine (Odd Ratio: 2.90, 95% Confidence Interval: 1.41-5.98) and with the development of persistent tension-type like headache as a new post-COVID symptom (Odd Ratio: 2.65, 95% CI: 1.66-4.24). Fatigue as a long-term symptom was also more prevalent in patients with headache at onset (Odd Ratio: 1.55, 95% CI: 1.07-2.24). No between-group differences in the prevalence of anxiety/depressive symptoms or sleep quality were seen.
CONCLUSION: Headache in the acute phase of SARS-CoV-2 infection was associated with higher prevalence of headache and fatigue as long-term post-COVID symptoms. Monitoring headache during the acute phase could help to identify patients at risk of developing long-term post-COVID symptoms, including post-COVID headache.