Migraine Drug Users Don't Need Cardiac Stress Test

Concerns about possible heart problems are overstated, researchers say

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MONDAY, July 26, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- First-time users of migraine drugs known as triptans should not have to undergo cardiac stress tests, say Duke University Medical Center researchers, who have analyzed data on the drugs' effects.

Concerns have been raised that triptans such as Imitrex and Zomig are possibly related to cardiac disease. Studies have shown the drugs can constrict blood vessels in the heart, which could be hazardous to people with heart disease.

However, patients without known cardiac disease who do not belong to any at-risk groups do not need exercise testing before starting triptans, said Dr. David Matchar, senior author on the paper.

The researchers created a "virtual clinical trial" using population data from previous migraine studies to create a simulated patient pool.

The number of heart attacks and cardiovascular deaths were similar across those who took triptans, took them after receiving a stress test, or didn't receive them.

However, there were 70 percent fewer migraines in the group that received triptans, compared to the group that did not.

The research appears in the July issue of Headache.

More information

The National Institutes of Health has more about migraines.

SOURCES: Duke University Medical Center, news release, July 20, 2004

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