This information on beta blockers: migraine is a step back to some of the basics regarding migraine treatment. Just what are beta blockers, and why are they used for migraine?
Beta blockers, also called beta-adrenergic blocking agents, are medications used for both migraine and blood pressure issues. They work by blocking certain neurotransmitters (norephinephrine and epinephrine) so that they won’t bind to certain beta receptors on nerves.
In this way the drugs reduce your heart rate and reduce blood pressure by dilating blood vessels. Different beta blockers have a slightly different effect on your cardiovascular system.
Beta blockers for migraine are given as preventatives. Some of the most effective beta blockers for migraine are metoprolol, propranolol, and timolol.
In 1966, a patient using beta blockers for a heart condition experienced a dramatic improvement in migraine symptoms. In the 1970s, beta blockers started to be tested and used for migraine on a regular basis.
It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that the effect of beta blockers on the cardiovascular system is the direct reason why they prevent migraine. After all, we’re very familiar with that pounding, pulsing pain – why wouldn’t relaxing of the blood vessels help?
But of course it’s not that simple. Believe it or not, that pounding is not directly related to your heart beat. So today, migraine experts are not certain about just why some beta blockers help some patients.
Before taking beta blockers for migraine, your doctor will need to know your medical history. People with certain heart conditions, lung conditions, or those taking certain other medications, may not be able to take beta blockers. There are also other migraine treatments that you may want to try first.
Today, there are various beta blockers you can take for migraine, and there are various ways you can take them. If one doesn’t work, another might.
One of the most interesting recent discoveries is that beta blocker eye drops may even be effective abortive migraine-fighters! See $5 Eye Drops to Stop Migraine Attacks?
Common side effects of beta blockers include fatigue, weight gain, trouble sleeping, nausea, sexual dysfunction, and shortness of breath. Some of these will depend on the dosage and the type of beta blocker. Your doctor can help you choose what to try first.
For more information, see:
- Beta-blockers overview (NHS)
- Use of Beta-Blocker Ophthalmic Solution for the Treatment of Migraine (NHF)
- Beta blockers Migraine preventative treatment (MAGNUM)
- Preventative Migraine Medication