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A double-blind randomized controlled trial of low doses of propranolol, nortriptyline, and the combination of propranolol and nortriptyline for the preventive treatment of migraine.

Author(s): Domingues RB, Silva AL, Domingues SA, Aquino CC, Kuster GW

Affiliation(s): Headache Clinic, Department of Pathology, Escola Superior de Ciencias da Saude de Vitoria, Vitoria, ES, Brazil. renan-domingues@uol.com.br

Publication date & source: 2009-12, Arq Neuropsiquiatr., 67(4):973-7.

Publication type: Randomized Controlled Trial

Few trials have evaluated combination of two or more drugs in the preventive treatment of migraine. In this study three therapeutic regimens were compared: (a) propranolol, at a dose of 40 mg per day, (b) nortriptyline, at a dose of 20 mg per day, and (c) the combination of these two drugs in these dosages. The groups were matched according to age, gender, and frequency of migraine attacks prior to treatment. The period of treatment was two months and the frequency and intensity of headache attacks of the 30 days pre-treatment period were compared with the frequency of headaches in the treatment period. Fourteen patients in groups A and B and sixteen patients in group C have completed the study. Treatment with propranolol, alone or in combination, was shown to be effective. Treatment with nortriptyline alone was not effective. All three therapeutic regimens were safe and side effects were minimal. The frequency of discontinuation of the study was the same in the 3 groups but no patient left the study due to adverse reactions. The combined therapy proved to be as safe as the monotherapy. Further studies evaluating this and other possible combinations of drugs in higher doses and for longer periods, should more clearly elucidate the role of combined therapy in the treatment of migraine.

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