Video Q & A:

Prevention 101


What medications can prevent migraines?

Expert:   Joshua Cohen, M.D., M.P.H. , St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center »

Looking to keep that migraine from creeping up? Watch this to find out which medications can help prevent them!

Transcript: Some people who are hit with migraine headaches can prevent them by making lifestyle changes. BUT, others, who get more frequent and severe migraines, find relief from medication. Many drugs used to PREVENT migraine weren’t designed for that purpose. Take beta-blockers, for instance. They’re primarily used to treat high blood pressure and heart disease, but there are TWO beta-blockers approved by the Food & Drug Administration for prevention against migraines-- PROPANOLOL and TIMOLOL. Calcium-channel blockers also treat high blood pressure and heart disease. The Food & Drug Administration has NOT yet approved any calcium channel blockers for use in migraine prevention. But, several studies with one specific calcium channel blocker called VERAPAMIL have produced positive results, and when doctors prescribe a channel calcium channel blocker, it’s usually the one they choose. Calcium channel blockers work by interfering with a cascade of inflammatory reactions associated with migraine. Betablockers help control stabilize overexcited nerve membranes. ANTI-CONVULSANTS are a VERY common choice for PREVENTING migraine. Originally developed for treatment of epilepsy, the FDA has approved TWO anti-convulsants for migraine prevention, DIVALPROEX SODIUM and TOPIRAMATE. They work by increasing the levels of certain neurotransmitters. ANTIDEPRESSANTS are another major class of drugs that help a person evade migraine attacks. They likely help by regulating the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. While doctors prescribe several types for this purpose, so far the MOST effective are tricyclic antidepressants. Preventative medication is usually recommended for anyone getting headaches 4 or more days a month, but may be used if you have less frequent headaches but they are very disabling.To get more answers to your migraine questions, watch other videos in this series! More »

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