Aspirin can be used to treat the majority of migraine patients, according to a study, which reviewed evidence from 13 clinical trials of the treatment of the condition in more than 4,000 patients.
The researchers, including those from Florida Atlantic University (FAU) in the US, said migraine headache is the third most common disease in the world affecting about 1 in 7 people -- more prevalent than diabetes, epilepsy and asthma combined.
They said many patients are not adequately treated for reasons such as limited access to health care providers, and lack of health insurance.
The study, published in the American Journal of Medicine, noted that a high-dose of aspirin -- from 900 to 1,300 milligrams -- given at the onset of symptoms, is an effective and safe treatment option for acute migraine headaches.
It said daily aspirin in doses from 81 to 325 milligrams may be effective and safe as a treatment option to prevent recurrent migraine headaches.
"Our review supports the use of high dose aspirin to treat acute migraine as well as low dose daily aspirin to prevent recurrent attacks," said Charles H. Hennekens, corresponding author of the study from FAU.
"Moreover, the relatively favourable side effect profile of aspirin and extremely low costs compared with other prescription drug therapies may provide additional clinical options for primary health care providers treating acute as well as recurrent migraine headaches," Hennekens said.
The researchers said approximately 90 per cent of migraine sufferers reported moderate to severe pain, with more than 50 percent facing severe impairment or the need for bed rest.
About one in 10 primary care patients present with headache and three out of four are migraine, they said.
"Aspirin is readily available without a prescription, is inexpensive, and based on our review, was shown to be effective in many migraine patients when compared with alternative more expensive therapies," said study co-author Bianca Biglione from FAU. PTI
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