A new study by the Norway and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology shows that a blood pressure medication, candesartan, is as effective as propranolol which is prescribed to prevent migraine. Further, candesartan may work better for those migraine suffers who don’t find propranolol to be useful.
The study by the norwegian researchers was a triple blind test which means that neither patients nor doctors nor those who analyzed the results knew whether the patients had been given the drug or a placebo.
Seventy two patients took part in the study and all patients were affected by migraine attacks at least twice a month. The patients used each treatment candesartan, propranolol, or placebo for 12 weeks and also underwent four weeks before start and finish between each treatment without anything. As such each patient was tested for nearly a year.
More than 20 percent of migraine patients reported that they feel better when given a placebo. However, blind tests show that candesartan works for another 20 to 30 percent of patients with migraine. Candesartan was used intially to treat high blood pressure but was discovered by chance in the 19990s that it worked well for headaches. This led to further studies with some funding provided by AstraZeneca.
Candesartan is sold under the name Atacand whereas propranolol is sold under the name Inderal. The patent on candesartan is nearing the expiration date so cheaper generic forms should be available. As such it is likely that candesartan will be considered a prophylactic for the treatment of migraine.
Source: L. J. Stovner, M. Linde, G. B. Gravdahl, E. Tronvik, A. H. Aamodt, T. Sand, K. Hagen. A comparative study of candesartan versus propranolol for migraine prophylaxis: A randomised, triple-blind, placebo-controlled, double cross-over study. Cephalalgia, 2013