Migraines,headaches which involve intense throbbing pain, sometimes accompanied by visual disturbances as well as sensitivity to light and sounds, have been found to respond to a drug hitherto used to treat high blood pressure.
Norwegian researchers reported that drugs like candesartan cilexetil (Atacand) reduces the number and severity of migraine attacks. The Norwegian team decided to study Atacand after a colleague in their department noticed his migraines disappeared when he started taking the drug lisinopril for his high blood pressure. The researchers reasoned that if the anti-migraine effect was linked to the lisinopril, which reduces the amount of angiotensin II, a drug such as Atacand, which works by blocking angiotensin II and called an angiotensin II receptor blocker, might be even more effective. Angiotensin II is a substance that constricts blood vessels and can make blood pressure rise.
The study involved 65 patients of ages 20 to 65, who experienced 2 to 6 attacks in a month. The researchers assigned 30 patients to take the placebo in the first 12 week period and a 16mg Atacand in the following 12 week period. The other group of 30 underwent the reverse of the above regime (ie. Atacand in the first 12 weeks and placebo in the next 12 weeks), though none of the groups were aware whether they were taking the placebo or the medicine.
Researchers found that during the 12 week periods, the average number of days with headaches was 18.5 with placebo and 13.6 with the medicine. 30 to 45 per cent of the subjects showed 50 per cent reduction in one of the outcome measures, like headache severity. The drug also a showed a reduction in the length of attacks, in addition to the reduction in the number of headache and migraine days.
The study, though very interesting and beneficial to the millions of migraine sufferers around the globe, has not been able to find out how these drugs work to reduce or prevent migraines. An expert neurologist says that the drug might presumably have multiple effects on multiple sites in the brain. The researchers also said that they do not have any predictors as yet, to who might respond to this type of medication and that they are trying to investigate this aspect, both with respect to blood pressure variations and to genetic variations.
The drug Atacand is manufactured by AstraZeneca, which provided the necessary medication and financial support for the study.