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Overuse of narcotics and barbiturates may make migraine worse
Date:11/19/2008

November 17, 2008 (Bronx, NY) A team of researchers led by investigators at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University has determined that certain commonly-prescribed medications may have the unintended consequence of increasing the frequency of migraine attacks. This important finding could alter the way doctors prescribe migraine medicines.

In a recent article published in the journal Headache, the Einstein-led study of more than 8,000 migraine sufferers nationwide, found that the use of medications containing barbiturates or narcotics which relieve migraine short-term may make migraine worse if these medications are overused. Treatment with these classes of medicines was associated with an increased risk of transformed migraine (TM) headaches, a form of migraine characterized by 15 or more days of headache per month.

The finding is significant because 35 million Americans suffer from migraine headaches and an additional 5 million suffer from transformed migraine. Migraine symptoms include throbbing head pain, most commonly on one side. The pain can worsen with physical activity. Attacks most commonly last from 4 to 72 hours, but may persist for longer. More severe attacks are overwhelming and hinder daily activities. In addition to personal suffering, lost labor costs in the U.S. due to migraine are in excess of $13 billion per year, according to an earlier study from the Einstein team.

Principal investigator and senior author of the study, Richard Lipton, M.D. noted, "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." Dr. Lipton is professor and vice chair of neurology at Einstein and also directs the Montefiore Headache Center.

The objective of the study was to assess the role of specific classes of acute medications
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Contact: Michael Heller
mheller@aecom.yu.edu
718-430-3101
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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