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IV Aspirin Found to Be Safe, Effective in Severe Headache

Many patients experience major pain relief, and there are few adverse effects

MONDAY, Sept. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Intravenous (IV) aspirin appears to be effective and safe in the treatment of patients hospitalized for the management of severe headache, according to research published in the Sept. 21 issue of Neurology.

Mark W. Weatherall, Ph.D., of the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, and colleagues reviewed the records of 168 severe headache patients who received IV aspirin (lysine acetylsalicylic acid), most of whom had overused and were withdrawing from other pain medications.

The researchers found that, on more than a quarter of the occasions on which IV aspirin was administered, there was at least a three-point decrease on a 10-point visual analog pain scale. There was an overall adverse effect rate of 5.9 percent, with no serious adverse events reported. Two patients discontinued aspirin treatment: one asthma patient who had a decrease in vital capacity and a second patient who became needle phobic. The most common adverse events were nausea and cannula pain, experienced by four and three patients, respectively.

"In summary, IV lysine acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) is effective and well-tolerated in the management of severe rebound headache in patients undergoing medication withdrawal," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical and/or medical device companies. One author estimates that 5 percent of his practice involves administering IV aspirin to headache patients.

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