Clinical Benefits of Early Triptan Therapy for Migraine
Although triptans have been proven effective for acute treatment of migraine, reserving them for moderate or severe pain may produce suboptimal pain relief and higher rates of recurrence. Recent evidence indicates that early intervention at the onset of pain improves outcomes. Post hoc analysis of a long-term, open-label European study of almotriptan 12.5 mg found that the percentage of attacks rendered pain-free at 2 hours was significantly greater when patients treated mild pain (84%) than when the intervention occurred during moderate or severe pain (53%). A similar pattern emerged with respect to the consistency of pain relief, with a significant advantage for early intervention (88% versus 56%, respectively). A difference in favor of early intervention was also seen with respect to recurrence, need for rescue medication, and adverse events. The recurrence rate was significantly lower in patients treating mild pain (28%) than in those delaying treatment until the pain became moderate or severe (33%), which suggests that achieving pain freedom results in less recurrence. These results were generally replicated in post hoc analysis of a subgroup of patients from a randomized, placebo-controlled trial (the Spectrum Study) of oral sumatriptan 50 mg in migraineurs. This analysis demonstrated that with early intervention, pain was less likely to intensify, fewer attacks required redosing, more attacks remained pain-free 24 hours postdose, and normal function returned more quickly. In sum, early intervention with triptans can improve outcomes, avoiding much of the pain and disability associated with treating moderate or severe attacks.
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