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Naratriptan in the Preventive Treatment of Refractory Chronic Migraine: A Review of 27 Cases

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Objective.—To review the efficacy of naratriptan as preventive treatment in 27 patients with chronic migraine refractory to other commonly used preventive therapies.

Background.—The treatment of chronic migraine often poses a major challenge to the clinician. Even when given expert care, patients with chronic migraine may continue to have daily or near-daily headaches.

Methods.—Clinical records and headache calendars were reviewed of 27 patients fulfilling the following inclusion criteria: (1) aged 18 to 65 years; (2) diagnosis of chronic migraine (formerly transformed migraine), according to the criteria proposed by Silberstein et al; (3) previous failure of at least 4 preventive medications prescribed as part of a management program that included nonpharmacological measures, preventive medication, acute care medication, and detoxification from overused medication; and (4) have used daily naratriptan for no less than 2 consecutive months. The dose of naratriptan prescribed was 2.5 mg twice daily. We considered the following outcomes: (1) frequency of headache, (2) intensity of pain, (3) number of days per month with severe headache, (4) headache index (frequency times intensity), and (5) proportion of patients who reverted to an episodic pattern of pain after 6 months of treatment.

Results.—There was a statistically significant reduction in the frequency of headache days 2 months (15.3 days versus 24.1 days at baseline, P<.001), 6 months (9.1 days, P<.001), and 1 year (7.3 days, P<.001) after daily treatment with naratriptan was initiated. There was also a statistically significant reduction in the number of days per month of severe pain at 1 month (5.6 days versus 12.5 days at baseline, P<.01), 2 months (5.7 days, P<.01), 6 months (2.8 days, P<.01), and 1 year (2.6 days, P<.01). Similarly, there was a statistically significant reduction in the headache index at 2 months (33 versus 56.4 at baseline, P<.001), 6 months (19.5, P<.001), and 1 year (17.2, P<.001).

Of the 20 patients who continued to use naratriptan daily for at least 6 months, 13 (65%) reverted to an episodic pattern of pain (migraine). At 1 year, 11 (55%) still continued to experience episodic headache, 1 (5%) relapsed to chronic migraine, and 2 (10%) were lost to follow-up. No patients had intolerability to naratriptan during the treatment period, and no one stopped treatment due to adverse events.

Conclusion.—Naratriptan may have a role in the preventive treatment of intractable chronic migraine. Prospective, controlled studies should be considered.

Keywords: chronic daily headache; chronic migraine; naratriptan; preventive treatment; prophylactic treatment; transformed migraine

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Neurology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY 2: The New England Center for Headache, Stamford, Conn 3: Department of Neurology, University of Antioquia, Medellin, Colombia 4: Primario Unita Operativa di Neurologia e Neurofisiopatologia, A. O. G. Rummo, Benevento, Italy

Publication date: 2003-05-01

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