A migraine is more than just a headache; it is a debilitating condition that can impair a person’s ability to function. Migraine symptoms include throbbing pain, sensitivity to light, sounds or smells, nausea and vomiting. About 15% of the world’s population suffers from migraines, and treatment can be expensive.
But a new study by scientists at the George Institute for Global Health in Sydney, Australia, has found that nearly all classes of blood pressure-lowering drugs can help reduce headaches in migraine sufferers. These medications may become a less expensive and more affordable treatment option.
How do blood pressure medications work?
Before moving on to the study results, let’s look at how each class of medication lowers blood pressure and which brands are most common.
Beta-blockers (e.g., Tenormin, Lopressor, Toprol, Levatol) reduce heart rate and cardiac output. Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) (Capoten, Monopril, Accupril, Lotensin) reduce angiotensin production, which helps to relax and dilate blood vessels. Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) (Atacand, Mycardis, Avapro) block the action of angiotensin, causing an effect similar to that of IAPs. Calcium channel blockers (CCBs) (Norvasc, Plendil, Adalat) stop calcium from entering muscle cells in the heart and arteries, dilating constricted blood vessels and reducing heart rate. Alpha-blockers (ABs) relax the muscle tone of the arteries, reducing their resistance.
How can blood pressure medications help treat migraine?
Researchers at the George Institute for Global Health in Sydney, Australia, conducted a meta-analysis of all randomized trials of antihypertensive medications to prevent episodic migraine, defined as less than 15 days with a headache per month. The analysis included 50 trials and 4,310 participants. They looked at the effectiveness of beta blockers and angiotensin II receptor blockers in addition to alpha blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, and calcium channel blockers compared with placebo.
The results of the study showed that almost all classes of antihypertensives have some ability to reduce the frequency of headaches in migraine sufferers. Cheryl Carsel, lead author of the study, said: “For countries where new migraine medications are expensive, limited prescribing criteria, or not available at all – covering all countries to some extent – this study shows that common blood pressure medications that general practitioners can prescribe can be an important preventive measure for patients with migraine attacks or severe headaches.”
This means that blood pressure medications can become a less expensive and more affordable option for migraine treatment. They can also be a preventive measure to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks and the duration and severity of headaches.
Migraine is a common condition that can seriously disrupt a person’s life. Migraine medication can be expensive, but a new study shows that blood pressure medication can help reduce headaches in migraine sufferers. It may become a less expensive and more affordable option for migraine treatment, as well as a preventive measure to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks and the duration and severity of headaches.