Barbiturates and narcotics abuse can increase frequency of migraine attacks

November 19th, 2008 - 6:32 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Nov 19 (ANI): A new study has discovered that overusing of certain commonly prescribed medications could increase the frequency of migraine attacks.

The discovery, made by a research team, led by investigators at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, could help in altering the way doctors prescribe migraine medicines and make them think twice.

The study involving more than 8,000 migraine sufferers found that patients using medications containing barbiturates or narcotics, which provide a short-term relief from migraine, could elevate the illness by overusing the drugs.

When migraine sufferers are treated with these classes of medicines, there is an increased risk of transformed migraine (TM) headaches, a form of migraine characterized by 15 or more days of headache per month.

It is an important find as 35 million Americans suffer from migraine headaches, and an additional five million suffer from transformed migraine.

Principal investigator and senior author of the study, Richard Lipton, M.D. stated that the fear of an increase in the illness from overuse of medicines was there among doctors.

This confirms the longstanding feeling among many doctors that certain medications used to treat migraine may increase the frequency of headaches if overused. These findings have important public health implications, he said.

The objective behind the study was to find out the role specific classes of acute medications played in the development of transformed or chronic migraine (TM) in people with episodic migraine (EM).

The study followed 8,219 people with episodic migraine for one year, and discovered that 2.5 per cent had developed TM over the course of the year, which means that episodic or occasional migraine sufferers who took narcotics or barbiturates more frequently were more likely to develop TM.

Proper treatment with the appropriate medicines can bring relief to most people with migraine, said Dr. Lipton.

Primary care practitioners and patients should try to avoid the use of narcotic or barbiturate medications that may exacerbate migraine; if these drugs are necessary, patients should be advised of the risks of medication overuse and dose limits should be applied, he added.

The American Migraine Prevalence and Prevention Study is funded through a research grant to the National Headache Foundation from Ortho-McNeil Neurologics, Inc., Titusville, New Jersey.

The study won the 2008 Harold Wolff Award for excellence in headache research, a prize given by the American Headache Society. (ANI)

Related Stories

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in National |