A trial of antithrombotic therapy in patients with refractory migraine and antiphospholipid antibodies: A retrospective study of 75 patients

Jill R Schofield, Hannah N Hughes, Marius Birlea, Kathryn L Hassell
Lupus 2021 January 5, : 961203320983913

OBJECTIVE: It has been reported that patients with antiphospholipid antibodies (aPL) and refractory migraine may experience symptomatic improvement with antithrombotic therapy, but this phenomenon has not been well studied. This study was undertaken to detail the response to trials of antithrombotic therapy in these patients.

METHODS: This is a retrospective study of 75 patients with refractory migraine and aPL who were given a 2-4 week trial of aspirin, clopidogrel and/or anticoagulation. Major response was defined as 50-100% improvement in frequency and/or severity of migraine; minor response: 25-49% improvement; no response: <25% improvement.

RESULTS: 66 patients were given a trial of aspirin: 47% responded (21% major); 60 patients were given a trial of clopidogrel: 83% responded (67% major); and 34 patients were given a trial of anticoagulation (usually apixaban): 94% responded (85% major). The response rate to any anti-thrombotic therapy was 89% (83% major). Many patients also noted improvement in non-headache symptoms. No patient experienced stroke. There was no major bleeding during any 2-4 week treatment trial and only 3 of 69 patients maintained on an antithrombotic regimen for a median follow up of 29.9 months (5-100) experienced major bleeding.

CONCLUSIONS: There was a high rate of symptomatic response to antithrombotic therapy in this context and long-term follow up suggested an individualized symptom-derived antithrombotic regimen may be associated with a low bleeding risk. Our data support consideration of a 2-4 week trial of antithrombotic therapy, usually starting with antiplatelet therapy, in aPL-positive patients with refractory migraine, particularly if other treatment options have been exhausted. As a retrospective study, our data provide only Class IV level of evidence, but they suggest randomized controlled trials are warranted to validate these encouraging findings.

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