As the warmer weather approaches, expect to hear more complaints of headaches from patients. Kenneth J. Mukamal, MD, of Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and colleagues looked at 7,054 people who had been diagnosed with headache over the course of seven years. The study compared temperature levels, barometric pressure, humidity, and other air pollutant or weather factors in the one to three days leading up to the patient’s presentation to an emergency department.
The analysis indicated that higher temperatures and lower barometric pressure increased the risk of headache. For every 5°C (9°F) jump in temperature, headache risk rose by 7.5%. Air pollution levels, however, had no influence, although other studies have linked air pollution to stroke, heart attack, and other health problems.
“Higher ambient temperature and, to a lesser degree, lower barometric pressure led to a transient increase in risk of headache requiring emergency department evaluation,” conclude the authors. “We did not find clear association of air pollutants with risk, but cannot exclude effects of air pollution of the magnitude previously observed for stroke and other cardiovascular events” (Neurology. 2009;72:922-927).