Could you use Aspirin to Prevent Migraine Attacks?

by James on 5 November 2012

Aspirin is considered by many to be one of the better migraine treatments, both as an abortive and a preventative treatment.  Should it be getting more attention?

Aspirin: Your new Migraine Preventative?

Dr. Lidia T. Savi reported on an aspirin and migraine study at the European Headache and Migraine Trust International Congress.  The study looked at a number of preventatives, and found that aspirin held its own.

Out of 194 patients with migraine with aura, 90 were given 300mg of aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) each day.  The rest were on a variety of other preventatives, such as propranolol (Inderal) and topiramate (Topamax).  How did the patients do?

First question – how many saw a 50% improvement after 32 weeks?

Google Chart

Obviously, the aspirin group generally did much better than the rest.  How about a 75% improvement after 32 weeks?

Google Chart

Once again, aspirin out did the others.  As expected, there were few problems with aspirin, and no patients had to stop taking it over the 32 weeks due to side effects.  Better yet, the patients on aspirin already saw improvement after 16 weeks (just over 3 and a half months).

This study does tell us that we need to seriously consider aspirin as a preventative treatment for migraine with aura. This study does not tell us that aspirin will be the most helpful for you.

This study actually raises a lot of questions.  The methods can drastically change the outcome.  For example, how were the patients diagnosed?  Why were they put on the preventatives – was it random?  There is no doubt whatsoever that some medications work better for some than others.

Even the lead researcher admitted that a larger study is needed.

It would be interesting to see more study in this area, especially for two reasons:

  1. Migraine has been associated with increased risk of heart disease and stroke.  Would aspirin help with treatment?
  2. Some studies suggest that migraineurs have an increased risk of aspirin resistance.  Why is that, and how would it affect treatment?

Meanwhile, this may be an option you’ll want to discuss with your doctor.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Wendy Jane Foster November 5, 2012 at 12:37 pm

hard on stomach.

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Kimberly Cofield November 5, 2012 at 12:42 pm

I have always thought to ask my Doc if the baby aspirin daily would help me. I am at my wits end and will be starting a new job in a few weeks. Don’t want them to know I have migraines right away.

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Zeina Nahol November 5, 2012 at 12:46 pm

No!

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Wendy Ensing November 5, 2012 at 12:49 pm

I have tried it doesn’t work, nothing I take seems to work.

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Kimberly Cofield November 5, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Aspirin can’t be any worse than the amount of hydrocodone and triptans required to ease the pain of my migraine attacks. May try Topamax again. But the side effects were nasty.

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Anna Rovelli Olofsson November 5, 2012 at 12:55 pm

I tried that 10 years ago, actually. Result: drug-induced daily headache. I would NOT recommend it!

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Linda Waldron November 5, 2012 at 12:59 pm

I have found taking an aspirin helps my migraine “attacks.” I don’t know what else to call them, and neither do the doctors. From what I see here, it’s an “aura” but these attacks are seizure/stroke like. Thankfully I don’t have either, but taking a 325mg aspirin in addition to my Fioricet just as I feel it come on does quiet things for awhile. I don’t take it as preventative though. Be sure not to mix anything with aspirin or ibuprofen due to stomach upset – know what’s in your medications and check with your doctor before doing this. I’m told it reduces the inflammation. I hope this helps someone :)

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Gail May 29, 2014 at 11:51 am

Have you tried Fiorinal? It’s the same as Fioricet, but has a combination of aspirin AND tylenol in it whereas Fioricet is only tylenol. I have both types and both seem to be equally effective for me. However, if you want to lessen the chance of tylenol induced liver damage due to excessive tylenol intake, you might want to go with the Fiorinal.

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Autumn Roxann Sweetin November 6, 2012 at 8:59 am

when i get migraine i take excedrin it has aspirin in it.

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Alistair Taylor November 9, 2012 at 5:38 am

yes i tried but i didn’t found any relief.

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Kayla T November 17, 2012 at 1:40 am

Yeah, if I take aspirin, for any reason, as soon as it wears off my head pain is worse, even if it wasn’t that bad before I took the aspirin. I learned this when I went in to the doctor for a outpatient procedure, when they told me to take aspirin to reduce swelling afterwards…bad idea. Would have rather just taken the pain from the procedure than the migraine attack afterwards. I am one of those people with chronic daily headache/migraines.

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