Basilar Artery Syndrome

Basilar artery syndrome causes a particular type of migraine, in which there is a disturbance in the brainstem or the lower part of the brain. This uncommon type of migraine headache usually starts with experiencing an “aura” with symptoms that include dizziness, double vision and a lack of coordination. The aura typically occurs 10 to 45 minutes prior to the headache. Basilar migraines can last from four to 72 hours and can be debilitating. In rare cases, the syndrome can lead to stroke or coma.

Basilar artery syndrome can happen to people of all ages. Although, it often starts during the teen years, and women are more likely to develop this condition than men. The migraines associated with the syndrome often start on one side of the head and then spread and become more intense. Along with a pulsating pain, other symptoms include:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Cold hands or feet
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Double vision
  • Confusion
  • Hearing impairment
  • Slurred speech

Neurodiagnostic tests, such as MRIs and CT scans are sometimes required to rule out other disorders that have similar symptoms. At the Stroke Center, we provide diagnosis and treatment for basilar artery syndrome. Treatment is typically focused on reducing pain and nausea.

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