Candesartan High Blood Pressure Medicine for Migraine Prevention

Candesartan is just as useful as propranolol for preventing migraine attacks, says a new study from Norway.

The research, done at St. Olavs Hospital in Trondheim, Norway and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, also found that candesartan may work for patients who get no relief from propranolol.

“This gives doctors more possibilities and we can help more people,” said study leader Professor Lars Jacob Stovner, of Norwegian National Headache Centre.

Side effects can vary from patient to patient, and if one drug doesn’t work for a migraine patient, the other one may.

Candesartan as Migraine Medicine

Candesartan is now in use by a number of doctors as a migraine prophylactic. The Norwegian University of Science and Technology follow-up study, which confirms the study from a decade ago, presents proof that the drug really does work.

Over 20 percent of migraine patients report feeling better, even when given a placebo. However, blind tests demonstrate that candesartan works preventively for an additional 20 to 30 percent of the patients. Perhaps, with the release of this data, candesartan will now be more commonly prescribed.

Estimates are that migraines affect one billion people globally. It causes problems for the individual, but is also costly for society in the form of sick leave and reduced ability to work. So preventing migraines offers many benefits.

Researchers looked at both Candesartan and Propranolol

72 patients took part in the study this time, the same amount as the previous study. These patients were usually affected by migraine attacks a minimum of twice each month.

Patients used either candesartan, propranolol or the placebo for 12 weeks. They also spent four weeks before start and between the treatment periods without any medication at all. This meant every patient was part of the study for almost a year.

Harald Schrader’s Discovery

Candesartan was originally a medication used to treat high blood pressure. A retired professor from St. Olavs Hospital named Harald Schrader, who himself had both high blood pressure and migraine, discovered by chance in the 1990s that candesartan also worked well for his own headaches.

The finding led to ensuing studies of the drug. Candesartan is marketed currently under the name Atacand, whereas propranolol is marketed under the name Inderal. There are also several copies on the market.

“The patent is running out,” Stovner says.

This means that more patients will have access to cheaper, generic forms of the medicine. Candesartan will now likely be included in guidelines for prophylactic treatment of migraine all over the world.

A comparative study of candesartan versus propranolol for migraine prophylaxis: A randomised, triple-blind, placebo-controlled, double cross-over study.
Stovner LJ, Linde M, Gravdahl GB, Tronvik E, Aamodt AH, Sand T, Hagen K.
Cephalalgia December 11, 20130333102413515348 doi:10.1177/0333102413515348