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Blood Pressure Medication Provides Migraine Relief

The high blood pressure medication candesartan (Atacand) appears to be as effective as the more commonly prescribed medication propranolol (Inderal) in preventing migraine attacks.

Many doctors already prescribe candesartan for migraine prevention, but researchers from St. Olav’s Hospital in Trondheim, Norway, and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology recently conducted a study to provide proof that the medication works.

Seventy-two patients who experienced two or more migraine attacks per month were given candesartan, propranolol, or a placebo for 12 weeks over the course of 1 year.

Both drugs enabled patients to reduce their triptan and analgesic usage, and of the 55 patients who completed the study, 43 percent of those taking candesartan and 40 percent of those taking propranolol reported a 50 percent or greater reduction in the frequency of their migraine days. A similar number of adverse affects were reported with both medications: 133 for candesartan (dizziness and paresthesia) and 143 for propranolol (body pain and low pulse rate when exercising).

The researchers also found that for those patients in whom propranolol was not effective, candesartan was effective. Additionally, propranolol is contraindicated in diabetes and asthma, and patients with these health problems could be treated with candesartan.

“This gives doctors more possibilities and we can help more people,” said Lars Jacob Stovner, MD, PhD, leader of Norwegian National Headache Centre, one of the study leaders.

Dr. Stovner noted that the patent for candesartan is expiring, and generic options for this agent will be available soon, thus making it more affordable.

Astra Zeneca Pharmaceuticals makes Atacand and provided some funding for this study, although the authors indicate that the funds were provided on an unconditional basis.

The study recently appeared in the journal Cephalalgia.

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