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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Migraine Headache Prophylaxis

Hien Ha, Annika Gonzalez
American Family Physician 2019 January 1, 99 (1): 17-24
30600979
Migraines impose significant health and financial burdens. Approximately 38% of patients with episodic migraines would benefit from preventive therapy, but less than 13% take prophylactic medications. Preventive medication therapy reduces migraine frequency, severity, and headache-related distress. Preventive therapy may also improve quality of life and prevent the progression to chronic migraines. Some indications for preventive therapy include four or more headaches a month, eight or more headache days a month, debilitating headaches, and medication-overuse headaches. Identifying and managing environmental, dietary, and behavioral triggers are useful strategies for preventing migraines. First-line medications established as effective based on clinical evidence include divalproex, topiramate, metoprolol, propranolol, and timolol. Medications such as amitriptyline, venlafaxine, atenolol, and nadolol are probably effective but should be second-line therapy. There is limited evidence for nebivolol, bisoprolol, pindolol, carbamazepine, gabapentin, fluoxetine, nicardipine, verapamil, nimodipine, nifedipine, lisinopril, and candesartan. Acebutolol, oxcarbazepine, lamotrigine, and telmisartan are ineffective. Newer agents target calcitonin gene-related peptide pain transmission in the migraine pain pathway and have recently received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; however, more studies of long-term effectiveness and adverse effects are needed. The complementary treatments petasites, feverfew, magnesium, and riboflavin are probably effective. Nonpharmacologic therapies such as relaxation training, thermal biofeedback combined with relaxation training, electromyographic feedback, and cognitive behavior therapy also have good evidence to support their use in migraine prevention.

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