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Anti-Migraine Drugs Might Cause More Pain Than Relief For Those With Heart,,Disease

DALLAS, Texas, July 7 -- As if lowering risk factors for heart attack isn't headache enough, researchers report that migraine sufferers with established heart disease shouldn't take certain anti-migraine medications.

Dutch researchers report in today's Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association that studies of blood vessels in the lab show that several migraine medications cause the vessels feeding the heart to contract. If these vessels, called coronary arteries, are already narrowed by heart disease, the contraction effects of the migraine drugs can tip the balance, resulting in chest pain and even heart attacks.

For individuals whose blood circulation is not slowed by heart disease, the scientists say that the migraine drug's contraction effects should not be dangerous.

"For most migraine sufferers this is not a problem," says Antoinette MaassenVanDenBrink, postgraduate student, pharmacology department, Erasmus University. "But if the coronary artery is already narrowed, there might not be enough reserve. In such cases, a small additional contraction may cause problems."

Therefore, doctors should be cautious about prescribing anti-migraine medications to people with established heart disease. Patients with risk factors for heart disease -- such as high blood pressure or cholesterol -- should not be prescribed this medication without a thorough evaluation showing the patient is free of heart disease, she says.

The researchers studied the coronary arteries' reaction to several anti-migraine medications after reports of chest pain and heart attack in some patients given drugs for migraine headaches. Manufacturers of some of the newer drugs have suggested their drugs are less likely to cause this type of problem, she says. However, scientists found that the drugs had similar effects on artery narrowing.

The researchers took 14 arteries from organ donors who had died from non-cardiac reasons. After measuring each artery's abilit
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Contact: Brian Henry
brianh@heart.org
214-706-1135
American Heart Association
6-Jul-1998


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